ISLAMABAD   -  In a new twist to the video leak controversy surrounding former accountability court judge Arshad Malik, the Federal Investigation Agency’s Cyber Crime Wing on Wednesday arrested one of the main alleged characters in the video scandal.

The FIA arrested Mian Tariq Mahmood, the suspect, on charges of making a compromising video of the judge and manipulating it into an immoral video to blackmail him.

A local court later granted FIA two-day physical custody of arrested Tariq Mahmood.

It is expected that FIA would make further arrests regarding the scandal in coming days.

The charge sheet presented by FIA before the magistrate says that accused Tariq Mahmood and others “made a compromising video and manipulated the same in an immoral/sexually explicit conduct video to blackmail the complainant (judge Arshad Malik).” The sheet further says that the accused person and others had “sold that video to pressurize and blackmail the complainant to help in one convicted accused in NAB reference.”

During the Wednesday’s proceedings of a local court, civil judge Shaista Kundi remanded the accused into physical custody of FIA for two days after the FIA officials requested for a 10-day physical remand.

Tariq was named in the affidavit submitted by Judge Arshad Malik in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Judge Malik — who in December last had sentenced former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to seven-year in jail in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference and acquitted him in the Flagship Investment case — has been at the centre of the controversy. During the hearing, FIA’s Cyber Crime Wing presented Tariq before the court and sought his 10-day physical remand. The accused told the court that he was tortured and showed his body with marks of injuries.

However, the civil judge granted FIA his two-day physical custody. The court also directed to present him again tomorrow along with his medical report after a medical checkup. Earlier, Tariq was brought to the civil court in an armoured personnel carrier (APC) with heavy security protocol.

Judge Arshad Malik in an affidavit submitted to the IHC had claimed that he was offered Rs500 million by the son of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif to resign on the pretext that he could “no longer deal with the guilt of having convicted the former premier under duress and without evidence”.

The judge stated in the affidavit, “Mian Tariq, an old social acquaintance from the time I was serving in Multan as additional district and sessions judge from 2000-2003, showed me a secretly recorded and manipulated immoral video in a compromising position saying that is it you doing this when you were serving in Multan.”

The judge further claimed that he was blackmailed after being shown the video and told to record an audio message that he delivered the verdicts to appease the “ruling elite” under an immense pressure and that substantial evidence was not available against the former prime minister. On July 6, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz in a press conference claimed that judge Malik had been “pressurised and blackmailed” to convict former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a corruption reference against him. She also screened a video containing the judge’s confession during his conversation with Nasir Butt what she said that Butt is a loyalist of her father.

However, Judge Malik rebutted the claims made by Maryam.

While the contents of the video have yet to be verified, the Supreme Court has taken up the matter. On July 16, the apex court took up three petitions seeking a thorough probe into the video scandal.

During its hearing, Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa observed that a factual inquiry should be conducted into the matter since the conduit of judge Malik was not only unusual but extraordinary. CJP wondered why the judge had been meeting the people who were connected with those he had sentenced — a reference of former prime minister.

After judge Malik’s removal, PML-N had requested the Supreme Court to annul the judge’s decision in the Al Azizia reference and release Sharif from jail.