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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

IHC suspends Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s sentence in Cipher case

Despite the acquittal, Imran and Qureshi are not expected to be released from prison immediately.

In a significant development, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday acquitted PTI founder Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cipher case. The short verdict was delivered by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, who accepted the appeals of the former premier and diplomat against their convictions.

Despite the acquittal, Imran and Qureshi are not expected to be released from prison immediately. Imran is still serving a sentence in the Iddat case, while Qureshi remains detained due to recent arrests related to the May 9 incidents.

Read more: Imran Khan Refuses FIA Cyber Crime Team’s Inquiry at Adiala Jail

Previously, a special court established under the Official Secrets Act had sentenced both Imran and Qureshi to 10 years in prison in January. This verdict came after Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain appointed state counsel for them.

The cipher case revolves around a diplomatic document that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) alleged was never returned by then-PM Imran. Imran had claimed that the document contained a threat from the US to topple his government.

The case history is as follows:

  • Imran and Qureshi were first indicted in October, pleading not guilty.
  • The IHC deemed the government’s notification for a jail trial “erroneous” and scrapped the proceedings.
  • The special court restarted the cipher trial in December at Adiala district jail, with a second indictment on December 13.
  • The Supreme Court approved post-arrest bails for both on December 22, but neither was released due to other pending cases.
  • On January 18, the special court recorded statements from five witnesses, including former principal secretary Azam Khan, who testified that the cipher was never returned to his office.
  • Subsequent testimonies included statements from ex-foreign secretary Sohail Mehmood and former interior secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar.
  • Testimonies revealed conflicting accounts about the return of the cipher document.

In March, the IHC questioned why the FIA was investigating Imran and Qureshi but not other recipients of the cipher. Last month, the IHC noted that the FIA had no evidence proving that Imran retained the confidential diplomatic cable or that it went missing from his possession.

Read more: My only regret is trusting Gen Bajwa: Imran Khan tells American Journalist