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Imran Khan moves high court against his indictment in cipher case

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on September 30 filed the charge sheet against Khan and Qureshi who signed its copies

PTI Islamabad Published 25.10.23, 07:58 PM
Imran Khan.

Imran Khan. File picture

Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan Wednesday moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against his indictment by a special court on charges of leaking state secrets and violating the laws of the country, urging it to declare the move "illegal and unlawful".

Khan, 71, and his close ally ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, 67, were on Monday indicted by the special court on charges of leaking state secrets, in another blow to the jailed leaders who could now face a possible death sentence.

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Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) filed a plea with the IHC through his lawyer Salman Safdar on Wednesday, Dawn newspaper reported.

The petition named the state through the attorney general’s office and Ministry of Interior Secretary Yousuf Naseem Khokhar as respondents.

It said that the petitioner was "quite aggrieved" with the mode and manner of framing of charges as well as the proceedings and the trial under the Official Secrets Act. "The trial is clearly progressing, violating and compromising settled principles of ‘criminal law’ resulting in [a] grave miscarriage of justice,” it said.

It said that there was a “visible haste” apparent in the actions of the judge.

"There seems to be a clear rush and haste on the past of learned trial judge to hurriedly frame charges and conclude trial. This contention holds appeal especially in light of the fact that [the] challan has only recently been submitted in court, and there is no direction” for its early conclusion or for conducting day-to-day hearing by any superior court.

It further said that the special court had framed charges under Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act, which was in “blatant and brazen violation of the law”.

The petition urged the IHC to declare the "hasty exercise” of framing of charges to be “illegal, unlawful and against the settled principles of the Code of Criminal Procedure”.

Khan was arrested in August after a case was filed against him for allegedly violating the Official Secrets Act by disclosing a secret diplomatic cable (cipher) sent by the country’s embassy in Washington in March last year.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on September 30 filed the charge sheet against Khan and Qureshi who signed its copies.

The FIA invoked in the charge sheet sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act which may lead to a death sentence, or two to 14 years’ imprisonment if convicted. Khan, who served as prime minister of Pakistan from August 2018 to April 2022, is accused of "misuse the contents of the cipher" to build a narrative that his government was ousted due to a foreign conspiracy hatched by the US, a charge denied by Washington.

The charge sheet added that Qureshi “aided and abetted” Khan and therefore was liable for the act in the same manner.

More than 150 cases have been registered against Khan since his ouster from power in April last year.

Khan was ousted through a vote of no-confidence in April 2022. He was incarcerated on August 5 this year, after an Islamabad court sentenced him to three years in prison in the Toshakhana case. The PTI chief was lodged in the Attock District Jail to serve his prison term.

Later, his sentence was suspended by the Islamabad High Court, but then he was arrested in the cipher case and remained in the Attock jail on judicial remand. He was later shifted to Adiala jail.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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