ISLAMABAD - The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Monday expanded the scope of ‘cybercrime’ crackdown while the opposition parties and human rights activists continued with their protest against, what they called, the misuse of law.

The government claimed it has been taking action over anti-army posts under the cybercrime law while the PTI and other opposition parties alleged their workers have been victimised politically.

As the FIA released some of the suspects after their brief detention for their alleged involvement in anti-army campaign on the social media, it has brought some more suspects under its investigations, an official said.

In latest development, the FIA had issued notice to diehard PML-N social media activist Umair Talat, alias Aadi, and he was asked to show up at the agency headquarters in Islamabad from Gujranwala.

“Our forensic experts of the Cybercrime Wing are sifting through the Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and blogs to ascertain the fact and any one would be charged after finding solid evidence against him,” the official said.

At least 23 PTI supporters have been detained and threatened with action under the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act, Fawad Hussain Chauhdry, a spokesman for the party, told AFP.

Two have been charged under the law, including one for sharing a satirical picture of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and are on bail pending further investigation. "One of our supporters was abducted from Quetta and brought to Islamabad in an armoured car. People are being harassed and it is spreading fear," the spokesman said.

He added the party would sue the government for intimidation and harassment in the Islamabad High Court.

In addition to the party activists, a Pakistani journalist said he had received an intimidating phone call from the FIA last Thursday and was asked to appear in person to explain his social media activity.

Taha Siddiqui, who won France's Albert Londres journalism prize in 2014 for a documentary he produced for France 2, said the call amounted to an attempt to intimidate him and he also planned to sue the government. The interior ministry has declined to comment on the cases, AFP reported.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan, while talking to reporters also criticised recent actions of the government on social media activists, belonging to his party and other political parties as well.

That government cannot muzzle the voices and opinions of ordinary Pakistanis for speaking against Nawaz Sharif’s governance.

Meanwhile, the Senate Standing Committee on Interior expressed serious concerns over the misuse of law by the FIA.  “We had supported the law with the condition that it would not be used for political victimisation of opponents,” committee chairman Senator Rehman Malik said during its meeting.

PTI Senator Shibli Faraz told the committee that the law was being misused and asked for formation of a mechanism to avoid such a misuse.

The PTI workers also took to the streets in Karachi, Quetta and Islamabad against the recent government actions.

Asad Umar led the demo in Karachi, Fawad Chaudhry in Islamabad and other local leaders in Quetta.

The protesting leaders alleged that in the past, the PML-N's government was responsible for hatching conspiracies against the electronic media and now the rulers are aiming to curb the social media. They also warned the government to expand the protest.  While announcing the Islamabad protest, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhary said: "They [the government] are trying to silence us."

"What Chaudhary Nisar is doing will hurt this country," Chaudhary added, referring to the interior minister's orders to the FIA to identify suspects involved in what the ministry calls an “organised” campaign against the country’s armed forces on social media.

Social media office ransacked

Unidentified persons have ransacked the PTI social media office at the Deans Trade Centre in Peshawar, the cell head said on Monday.

PTI KP social media cell head Syed Furqan Kaka Khail told The Nation that his office on the third flood of TF-368 was vandalised as he returned after a two-day leave.

PTI activist Syed Furqan Kakakhel said the office was his personal space, where he worked as a party volunteer to "promote PTI's vision on social media".

Pointing to political revenge, he said neither he has enmity with anyone nor clash with any of neighbour. He said the police were looking into the matter as he reported the incident to the lawmen.

Condemning the incident in the capital of KP, which is being ruled by the PTI, Chairman Imran Khan blamed the attack on federal government being led by the PML-N. The PTI chairman has already issued a warning to the federal government to launch a movement if the government attempted to gag the social media.