Cipher case: Special court commences Imran Khan, Qureshi's trial under Official Secrets Act

IHC last week rejected former premier's pleas against indictment following his indictment on October 23

Arfa Feroz Zake
PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi. — AFP/File
PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi. — AFP/File

  • IHC last week rejected Khan's pleas seeking bail, against indictment.
  • The court will start recording witnesses' statements on next hearing.
  • PTI leaders incarcerated in Adiala jail; booked under Official Secrets Act. 

ISLAMABAD: A special court formed under the Official Secrets Act on Tuesday commenced the trial of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

The duo was indicted in the cipher case on October 23 — despite filing a petition under CrPC 265-D to stop the indictment — after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) booked them for violating the secret law by misusing and misplacing the diplomatic cable based on conversations between Pakistan’s envoy to Washington and the US diplomat.

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.

The investigation agency also maintained that Khan had a copy of the cipher but he did not return it.

The controversy first emerged on March 27, 2022, when Imran, while addressing a public rally, waved a letter before the crowd, claiming that it was a cipher from a foreign nation that had conspired with his political rivals to have the PTI government overthrown.

During today's hearing, witnesses, of whom nine were present in the court, were unable to record their statements in the cipher case, sources informed Geo News.

Meanwhile, PTI's legal team submitted four applications including the one seeking the provision of the witnesses' names before each hearing.

Two applications were filed by Qureshi, one seeking adjournment of the case without a hearing, and another seeking adjournment based on a bail application filed in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Judge Zulqarnain, in response to PTI's application for the provision of the complete challan, allowed the defence team to view challan documents while barring them from taking pictures or making copies.

The case has been adjourned till November 7. The court will formally record the witnesses' statements at the next hearing.

Last week, the PTI chairman's plea seeking a halt in proceedings against him in the cipher case was rejected by the IHC.

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq directed the special court to ensure a "fair trial" against the former prime minister.

Separately, the IHC also rejected the former prime minister's pleas seeking bail and cancellation of the first information report (FIR) in the cipher case on Friday.