Special court in Pakistan adjourns cipher case hearing against Imran Khan until Friday

Special court in Pakistan adjourns cipher case hearing against Imran Khan until Friday

Islamabad, Nov 7 (PTI) A special court in Pakistan on Tuesday adjourned the hearing of the cipher case against jailed former prime minister Imran Khan until November 10 after recording statements of witnesses.

Special court judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain held the trial hearing in the high-security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi where the Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman has been kept since September 26 following his shifting from the Attock jail.

According to Khan's party, the trial under a special secret act was conducted within the jail premises.

'Statements (were) recorded from witnesses by prosecution, (and) hearing (was) adjourned till Friday, November 10,” the party said in a brief statement. It was not clear how many witnesses recorded their statements.

On the last hearing on October 31, ten witnesses had come to record statements against 71-year-old Khan and 67-year-old former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is a co-accused in the case relating to the alleged leaking of a secret diplomatic cable (cipher) sent by the country's embassy in Washington in March last year.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) registered the case against Khan and Qureshi in August this year for violating Pakistan's secrecy laws by allegedly divulging details of the official diplomatic communication.

The FIA filed a charge sheet against Khan and Qureshi on September 30. It has invoked sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act which may lead to a death sentence, or two to 14 years imprisonment if convicted. The charge sheet added that Qureshi “aided and abetted” Khan and therefore was liable for the act in the same manner.

Khan, a former cricketer-turned-politician, and Qureshi were indicted on October 23 in the cipher case. They have pleaded not guilty.

On October 27, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) rejected petitions by Khan seeking post-arrest bail and the quashing of the FIR in the cipher case. He had approached the IHC with the pleas for bail in the case as well as against the FIR which was registered by the FIA in August.

Khan, who served as prime minister of Pakistan from August 2018 to April 2022, is accused of “misusing 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.

Khan was incarcerated on August 5 this year, after an Islamabad court sentenced him to three years in prison in the Toshakhana case. He was lodged in the Attock District Jail to serve his prison term.

Later, his sentence was suspended by the IHC. But, he was arrested in the cipher case and remained in the Attock jail on judicial remand. He was later shifted to Adiala jail, where the trial in the cipher case is being held.

Khan was ousted through a vote of no-confidence in April 2022. The ousted premier and several of his party leaders have been facing numerous cases in the wake of the May 9 violence.

More than 150 cases have been registered against Khan since his ouster from power in April last year. PTI SH NPK PY ZH AKJ ZH ZH

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