Fact-check: Has a cipher about Imran Khan been leaked?
Three former diplomats have confirmed to Geo Fact Check that the document circulating online is fake, and has no resemblance to an actual cipher
Updated Monday Sep 04 2023
Some social media users appear to believe claims that a diplomatic “cipher” — a secret cable — that suggested the US administration wanted to remove former prime minister Imran Khan from power last year, has leaked online.
The document is fake.
On August 10, an online user posted a screenshot of a purported document alongside the caption: “Another cipher leaked.”.
The alleged document is dated March 7, 2022, and has been marked “secret”.
The “cipher” goes on to detail a conversation between Pakistan’s then-ambassador to the US, Asad Majeed, and the US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, Donald Lu.
It quotes the US official as saying that “Pakistan must take steps to remove the incumbent (Imran Khan)”.
The post has been viewed over 64,000 times on X, formerly known as Twitter, and reposted and liked 356 and 761 times respectively.
The alleged document was also shared by other users on X.
Three former diplomats have confirmed to Geo Fact Check that the document circulating online is fake, and has no resemblance to an actual cipher.
“It is clearly a fake,” Shamshad Ahmad Khan, a former foreign secretary, told Geo Fact Check over the phone.
“A cipher is always addressed to the foreign secretary,” Khan said, adding that the text in a cipher is written in coded language and cannot be understood by just anyone.
“No, this is definitely not a cipher,” Abdul Basit, a former high commissioner of Pakistan to India, confirmed to Geo Fact Check over the phone.
Another former diplomat, who asked not to be named, said: “In my professional career, I have not seen such a format [of a cipher] to date.”
Separately, one of the users, who posted the fabricated document, also admitted later that the document, he had shared, was satire.
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