LAHORE - A judicial magistrate on Tuesday sentenced a man to 14 months in prison for blackmailing and harassing a woman on Facebook.

Announcing the verdict, Judicial Magistrate Farooq Azam Sohal also imposed a Rs200,000 fine on the convict.

Azhar Safdar, the convict, was arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) after the victim moved an application against him under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016.

The judge held that the suspect’s counsels failed to prove his innocence, while the FIA presented solid evidence of his blackmailing and harassment of the petitioner on social media. The judge also expressed dismay over increasing incidents of cyber crimes and asked the government to run an awareness campaign to educate the public about social media and cyber crimes.

During the trial, the FIA presented the mobile phone, which was seized from the convict at the time of his arrest and said it contained objectionable material about the complainant.

The counsel for the suspect however rejected the allegations, saying the mobile phone presented by the FIA did not belong to the accused. The said phone was planted at the scene from where he was arrested, the counsel said. He requested the court to order his release because he was innocent.

On June 11, a man was sentenced to death for sharing blasphemous material on Facebook — the first such case since the rise of social media in Pakistan. ATC Judge Malik Shabbir Ahmad Awan had sentenced the man to death under the Pakistan Penal Code and five-year imprisonment under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of the Punjab Police had arrested 30-year-old Raza, a resident of Okara district, on April 5 last year after a case was registered against him on the complaint of a sub-inspector of the CTD Multan under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Sections 9 and 11w of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).