- Imran Khan said the cipher was “illegally maintained and miscommunicated”.
- Khan requested the IHC to declare his indictment void.
- Court did not fulfill legal conditions in framing charges: Petition.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Wednesday moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against his indictment in the Cipher case by a special court constituted under the Official Secrets Act.
Earlier this week, the special court had convicted Khan and his deputy Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cipher case, which involved misuse and misappropriation of diplomatic cables based on conversations between Pakistan’s envoy to Washington and a US diplomat during his tenure. This involved a charge of violating secret law by using the method. Khan-led government last year.
Special court judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain read out the charges, saying Imran Khan “illegally retained and wrongly transmitted” the cipher.
“The said information/cipher was related to top secret information, which was related to two states, i.e. the United States of America and Pakistan,” the charge sheet said, adding that the PTI chief had used the cipher. Did it in ‘Forbidden Place (Jalsa)’. and that secret information was “deliberately communicated” to the participants, violating “the interests of the state of Pakistan”.
In a petition filed today through his lawyers Salman Safdar and Khalid Yusuf, the jailed former prime minister requested the IHC to declare his indictment invalid, citing procedural lapses.
Complainant Yusuf Naseem Khokhar and the state have been made parties in the petition.
The petition said that charges can be framed after seven days of distribution of challan copies and the trial court has not fulfilled the legal requirement in this regard.
It was argued that the special court convicted the PTI chief in a hurry and also wanted to conduct the trial in a hurry.
The petitioner said the IHC had not issued any direction to the special court to hear the case on a daily basis and conclude the hearing quickly.
“The hasty trial proceedings will affect fundamental constitutional rights,” the petitioner said.
It said the trial cannot proceed in the absence of key evidence and prayed the IHC to annul the October 23 verdict of the special court.
Khan and Qureshi are currently in Adiala jail on judicial remand in the cipher case.
In August, the FIA arrested the PTI chief and the party’s vice president under the Official Secrets Act for alleged misappropriation and misuse of a classified document for vested political interests.
On August 5, 2023, Khan was taken into custody after being sentenced to three years in jail in the Toshakhana case. Initially, he was kept in Attock jail but later he was shifted to Adiala jail.
It is pertinent to mention here that the IHC had on August 29 suspended the sentence awarded to the PTI chairman in the Toshakhana case, but he remains behind bars due to his arrest in the Sifar case.
FIA charge sheet
The FIA said in its challan that the former Prime Minister and the former Foreign Minister have been found guilty in this case and requested the court to prosecute them in this case and punish them.
According to sources, the name of former PTI general secretary Asad Umar has not been added to the list of accused. Meanwhile, Khan’s former principal secretary Azam Khan was also named as a “strong witness” in the case.
The FIA also attached Azam’s statements recorded under sections 161 and 164 along with the challan, sources said, adding that the PTI chief kept the cipher with himself and misused the state secret.
Sources also said that Khan had a copy of the cipher but did not return it.
Additionally, the FIA also attached the transcript of Khan and Qureshi’s speech on March 27 – the day when the former prime minister presented a letter claiming it was a cipher from a foreign nation, which wanted His government should be removed from power.
The agency also submitted a list of 28 witnesses to the court along with the challan after recording their statements under Section 161.
Sources further said that the names of former Foreign Secretary Asad Majeed, Sohail Mehmood and then Additional Foreign Secretary Faisal Niaz Tirmizi have also been added to the list of witnesses.
What is ciphergate?
The controversy first came to light on March 27, 2022, when Khan – less than a month before his ouster in April 2022 – addressed a public rally and waved a letter in front of the crowd, claiming it was a It was the cipher of a foreign nation who had hatched the conspiracy. His political rivals overthrew the PTI government.
He did not reveal the contents of the letter nor did he reveal the name of the country from where the letter came. But days later, he accused the United States of plotting against him and alleged that Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu had sought his removal.
The reference was about former Pakistan ambassador to the US Majid Ki meeting with Lu.
The former prime minister claimed that he was reading material from the cipher, adding that “if Imran Khan is removed from power then everything will be forgiven for Pakistan”.
Then on March 31, the National Security Committee (NSC) took up the matter and decided to issue a “strong demarche” to the US for its “blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan”.
Later, after his removal, then Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called a meeting of the NSC, which concluded that it had found no evidence of any foreign conspiracy in the cables.
In two audio leaks, which took the internet by storm and shocked the public after these incidents, the former prime minister, then federal minister Asad Umar and then principal secretary Azam were allegedly seen discussing the US cipher and how to use it. can be heard. For their benefit.
On September 30, the federal cabinet took note of the matter and constituted a committee to investigate the contents of the audio leak.
In October, the Cabinet gave the green signal to initiate action against the former Prime Minister and handed over the case to the FIA.
Once the FIA was tasked to investigate the case, it summoned Khan, Omar and other party leaders, but the PTI chief challenged the summons and obtained a stay order from the court.
The Lahore High Court (LHC) withdrew the stay order against the call-up notice to Khan by the FIA in July this year.
The charge sheet states that Qureshi “aided and abetted” Imran and was, therefore, liable for the act in the same manner.
However, both the accused pleaded innocent.