Cipher case: PTI chief to stay in jail despite sentence suspension

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Imran Khan’s immediate release unlikely due to his arrest in missing cipher case

The immediate release of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan is unlikely despite the orders for his release in the Toshakhana case due to his arrest in the missing cipher case.

In a major legal victory on Tuesday, the former prime minister — who is incarcerated at Attock jail — got relief from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) which suspended the sentence awarded to him in the Toshakhana case and ordered his release on bail.

However, the former premier is likely to remain incarcerated despite release orders.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officially arrested the former prime minister — who was ousted from office after a no-confidence motion in April last year — under the Official Secrets Act 1923 during his imprisonment in Attock jail in the Toshakhana case.

The counter-terrorism wing of the FIA had registered an FIR in the case against Khan after for misplacing and misusing the classified document for political purposes.

During the trial of the case, the judge of a special court formed under the Official Secrets Act has remanded Khan into judicial custody in jail till August 30.

The court has also directed the superintendent of Attock jail to keep the ex-PM in the judicial lockup and present him upon completion of the remand period.

Therefore he cannot be immediately released from jail.

The case

On March 27, 2022, ahead of the vote of no-confidence that resulted in his ouster, former premier Imran had pulled out a piece of paper – allegedly the cipher – from his pocket and waved it in a public gathering in Islamabad, claiming it was the evidence of an “international conspiracy” being hatched to topple his government.

However, during the interrogation with the joint investigation team (JIT) in the jail on August 26, Khan denied that the paper he waved at a public gathering last year was the cipher.

He also admitted to losing the cipher, saying he couldn’t recall where he kept it.

The cipher case against the former premier became serious after his principal secretary Azam Khan stated before a magistrate as well as the FIA that the former PM had used the US cipher for his ‘political gains’ and to avert a vote of no-confidence against him.

The former bureaucrat, in his confession, said when he provided the ex-premier with the cipher, he was “euphoric” and termed the language a “US blunder”. The former prime minister, according to Azam, then said that the cable could be used for “creating a narrative against establishment and opposition”.

Azam said the US cipher was used in political gatherings by the PTI chairman, despite his advice to avoid such acts. He mentioned that the former prime minister also told him that the cipher could be used to divert the public’s attention towards “foreign involvement” in the opposition’s no-confidence motion.

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