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Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that Razi had been arrested for social-media postings that allegedly violated Pakistan's Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Pakistani authorities to release and drop all legal proceedings against television reporter Rizwan Razi, who is accused of making “defamatory” comments against the country’s authorities.

"Expressing opinions, even critical opinions, should not be a crime, in Pakistan or anywhere," the New York-based media watchdog’s Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler said in a statementon February 9.

"Justice -- and Pakistan's constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press -- can only be served by Rizwan Razi's immediate release," Butler added.

Razi’s arrest comes as media workers and activists face unprecedented pressure from Pakistani authorities. Dozens of rights activists and journalists critical of authorities have been detained, arrested, or fled the country out of fear for their safety in recent years.

Razi -- a TV host for Din News, a privately owned Urdu-language news station -- was taken from his home and placed in custody in the eastern city of Lahore on the morning of February 9.

His son, Osama Razi, said that unknown men attacked his father and then dragged him into a car.

Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that Razi had been arrested for social-media postings that allegedly violated Pakistan's Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act.

Razi was being investigated for alleged "defamatory and obnoxious posts" on his Twitter account against Pakistan’s "judiciary, government institutions, and intelligence agencies," according to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

The agency also said that the journalist had "confessed" to uploading the posts, apologized, and promised to refrain from posting similar material in the future.

It was unclear what specifically led to Razi’s arrest.

Earlier this month, he criticized extrajudicial killings in Punjab Province at the hands of security forces, according to screenshots of Twitter postings provided to the CPJ, the media watchdog said.

The journalist’s Twitter account appeared to be offline on February 9.

Pakistan is ranked 139th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

With reporting by AP and Reuters

FILE: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Pakistan authorities have arrested a journalist known for his criticism of the government.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said it arrested journalist Rizwan Razi at his residence in the city of Lahore on February 9.

The FIA, Pakistan's law-enforcement agency, said Razi was arrested on a charge of violating the country's cybercrime law.

Razi, who worked for private Din TV, was being investigated for "defamatory and obnoxious" comments about the judiciary, government, and intelligence services, according to FIA.

Razi's son, Osama, told Reuters and AP that unknown men attacked and then dragged his father into a car.

In a separate case, Ammar Ali Jan, an academic also based in Lahore, was arrested over his involvement in a protest at the death of Arman Loni, a regional leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM). He was later released on bail.

A message on Ammar's Facebook page on February 9 said he was taken at 4 a.m. "I am a law-abiding citizen and will not be deterred in the fight for justice," it said.

Police official Azhar Naveed confirmed the brief detention and bail, which followed other arrests over the protests earlier this week. He said Ammar was charged with taking part in a rally, blocking a road and making "anti-state" speeches.

Pakistani journalists say they are facing unprecedented pressure from the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan and the country's all-powerful army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, which have an oversized role in domestic and foreign affairs.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP

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