A special court, formed to hear the cipher case registered under the Official Secrets Act, on Monday, indicted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PT) Chairman Imran Khan and Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
The hearing of the case was held at the Adiala jail in Rawalpindi by special court judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain.
Both the PTI leaders were indicted after they had moved a petition under CrPC 265-D to stop the indictment. The judge while rejecting the petitions stated that the hearing was fixed for indictment and went ahead with it.
Once the charges are framed, the evidence of the prosecution is recorded and the case trial begins. Subsequently, the testimonies and statements of the accused are recorded by the court.
In line with the procedure, the court issued notices to the witnesses to appear on October 27 and adjourned the hearing till then.
According to sources, Qureshi and Khan have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In the last hearing on October 17, both the PTI leaders’ indictment was deferred till today as the copies of challans submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against the PTI leaders were provided to the accused.
Judge Zulqarnain had scheduled the indictment for the next week as the accused lawyers had refused to receive the copies of the challan during the hearing before the one held on October 17.
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In August of this year, Khan and Qureshi were booked under the Official Secrets Act 1923 in the cipher case after the FIA invoked Section 5 of the said law. The diplomatic cable reportedly went missing from Imran’s possession. According to the former ruling party, the cable contained a threat from the US to topple the PTI’s government.
Khan and Qureshi are currently in Adiala jail on judicial remand in the cipher case.
Khan was taken into custody after being sentenced to three years in prison in the Toshakhana case on August 5, 2023. Initially, he was kept in Attock jail but later he was moved to Adiala jail.
It is pertinent to mention here that the IHC on August 29 had suspended the sentence handed down to the PTI chairman in the Toshakhana case.
FIA charge sheet
The FIA, in its challan, stated that the former prime minister and the vice-chairman were found guilty in the matter and requested the court to conduct their trial and sentence them in the case.
According to the sources, former PTI secretary-general Asad Umar’s name was not 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, said the sources, adding that the PTI chief kept the cipher to himself and misused the state secret.
The sources also said that Khan had a copy of the cipher but he did not return it.
Moreover, the FIA also attached the transcript of Khan and Qureshi’s speech on March 27 — the day when the former premier brandished a letter claiming it was a cipher from a foreign nation, that wanted his government to be removed from power.
The agency also submitted a list of 28 witnesses to the court with the challan after recording their statements under Section 161.
Sources further revealed that the names of former foreign secretaries Asad Majeed, Sohail Mehmood and the then additional foreign secretary Faisal Niaz Tirmizi have also been added to the list of witnesses.