Cipher Case: Major developments reported
In Islamabad, former Prime Minister and Chairman of PTI, Imran Khan, took a step on Friday by submitting a request to the Supreme Court for post-arrest bail in a case concerning a missing classified cypher telegraph's copy that authorities claim he still possesses.
Currently detained at Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail, Imran Khan filed this plea through his attorney, Salman Safdar. In his plea, the former prime minister contested the October 27 verdict of the Islamabad High Court, which rejected his petition for post-arrest bail in the cypher case and the dismissal of its initial FIR.
He expressed concern that the High Court's deliberations extended far beyond a "tentative assessment," delving into an unnecessary and extensive examination, including over 10 hours of arguments. The delay in adjudication, lengthy submissions, and an elaborate bail refusal order were believed to have caused significant prejudice.
Imran Khan informed the Supreme Court that he had previously submitted a post-arrest bail petition before a special judge designated under the Official Secrets Act, 1923, in Islamabad on August 30, but it was dismissed on September 14.
He claimed that the dismissal occurred without a thorough consideration of the case's merits, neglecting substantial irregularities and contradictions within the prosecution's narrative.
On September 30 of the same year, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) presented a charge sheet in the cipher case to the special court, alleging that Imran had violated the Official Secrets Act by unlawfully possessing a diplomatic cipher. The agency also implicated PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi in facilitating Imran and referred to his speech at a public rally in Islamabad on March 27, 2022.
Imran Khan, in his petition, asserted that he, as a former prime minister and leader of the "largest political party" in the country, faced nearly 200 criminal cases, including allegations of terrorism, mutiny, sedition, prohibited funding, Toshakhana, media speeches, violence, and criminal conspiracies against the state. He contended that these cases were filed with the intent of politically victimizing him, settling scores, and isolating him.
Imran also argued that the initiation of the cypher case, orchestrated by the interior ministry secretary and executed by the FIA, represented another attempt to subject him to political victimization. He pointed out that the foreign affairs ministry, as per the prosecution, was the original recipient of the cypher telegram, but it was the interior ministry secretary who acted as the complainant in this case.
Additionally, the petition raised concerns about the FIA's perceived lack of independence and fairness in handling this matter. It also pointed out that a careful examination of the Official Secrets Act, 1923, indicated that its primary focus is on addressing serious offenses like espionage and unauthorized sharing of confidential information related to "prohibited" and "notified" areas with "Enemy States," which could compromise national security.
Section 5 of the Act did not seem to apply to the allegations detailed in the FIR, rendering the Official Secrets Act, 1923, irrelevant in this case.