The special court in Pakistan has announced that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi will be indicted in the cipher case on October 17. The two PTI leaders were presented before the special court judge at Adiala jail, where they are currently detained.
The date for their indictment was set after the court received copies of the charge sheet (challan) submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and provided them to the accused’s legal representatives. The court also issued notices to government witnesses.
During the previous hearing, the PTI’s legal team had objected to holding the trial in Adiala jail and requested a delay until the Islamabad High Court (IHC) decides on their plea challenging the in-camera trial. However, the IHC ruled that the hearing on Imran Khan’s bail plea would be conducted in an open court.
In the FIA’s charge sheet, it was stated that both the former prime minister and the vice-chairman were found guilty in the matter. The FIA requested the court to conduct their trial and impose sentences in the case.
Notably, the former PTI secretary-general, Asad Umar, was not included in the list of accused. However, Khan’s former principal secretary, Azam Khan, was named as a “strong witness” in the case. The FIA also attached Azam’s statements to the charge sheet, along with the allegation that Khan kept the cipher to himself and misused the classified information.
The FIA also submitted a transcript of Khan and Qureshi’s speech on March 27, the day when Imran Khan waved a letter claiming it was a cipher from a foreign nation that wanted his government removed from power.
The agency presented a list of 28 witnesses to the court after recording their statements under Section 161. This list includes the names of former foreign secretaries Asad Majeed, Sohail Mehmood, and the then additional foreign secretary Faisal Niaz Tirmizi.
Earlier this year in August, the FIA charged both Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi under the Official Secrets Act for allegedly mishandling and misusing the classified document for political purposes. The case, known as “Ciphergate,” began when Khan, during a public rally in March 2022, waved the letter and claimed it contained a conspiracy against his government. He accused the United States of plotting his removal without revealing the letter’s contents or its source.
The FIR registered against the PTI leaders stated that they had shared information from the classified document with unauthorized individuals, manipulating facts for personal gains, and prejudicing state security.
As a result of the investigation, both leaders were arrested, and a special court was established to try them under the Official Secrets Act.