Home » Islamabad High Court Acquits Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Cipher Case

Islamabad High Court Acquits Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Cipher Case

by Mohammed Ahmed
Islamabad High Court Acquits Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Cipher Case

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has acquitted PTI founder Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the high-profile cipher case. IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb delivered the verdict, accepting the appeals against their previous convictions.

Despite the acquittal, Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi will remain in prison. Imran Khan is serving a sentence in the Iddat case, while Qureshi has been arrested in connection with incidents from May 9.

The special court, established under the Official Secrets Act, had initially sentenced both leaders to 10 years each in January, following their involvement in the cipher case. The case revolves around a diplomatic document that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) alleged was not properly returned by then-Prime Minister Imran Khan, who maintained that the document contained a threat from the United States to overthrow his government.

Case History

The cipher case’s roots trace back to October when Imran Khan and Qureshi were first indicted. Both pleaded not guilty, and the IHC later termed the government’s notification for a jail trial as “erroneous,” nullifying the entire proceedings.

The special court began a fresh trial last month at Adiala district jail after re-indicting the two on December 13. On December 22, the Supreme Court granted post-arrest bail to both, but while Imran remained incarcerated due to other cases, Qureshi’s release was stalled following his re-arrest in another case.

The special court’s proceedings saw numerous witnesses testify, including former principal secretary Azam Khan, who stated that the cipher never returned to his office. Other key witnesses included ex-foreign secretary Sohail Mehmood and former interior secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar, who provided critical testimonies about the handling of the document.

Court Proceedings

Throughout the hearings, Imran Khan argued that the cipher was with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and he only received a rephrased version of the diplomatic cable. The trial saw multiple cross-examinations and statements from 25 out of 28 listed witnesses, including high-profile officials such as ex-envoy to the US Asad Majeed, who stated that the diplomatic cable did not contain words like “conspiracy” or “threat.”

The FIA prosecutor accused the defense of delaying tactics, urging the court to expedite the proceedings. Consequently, Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain appointed new defense counsels for both PTI leaders.

Imran Khan criticized the trial process, alleging it was a farce, with both prosecution and defense teams being part of the government. The trial, which saw prolonged sessions and intense scrutiny, concluded with the IHC’s decision to acquit both leaders.

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