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Major relief for Imran Khan, Pakistan Court acquits ex-PM in state secrets case but will remain in jail

Despite the acquittal, Khan will remain in prison, having also been convicted in another case relating to his marriage to his third wife, Bushra Bibi, contravening Islamic traditions.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Islamabad Updated on: June 03, 2024 18:05 IST
Pakistan former PM Imran Khan
Image Source : AP Pakistan former PM Imran Khan

Islamabad: In a major development, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday acquitted former Prime Minister and PTI founder Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cipher case, Dawn reported. According to media reports, both leaders are not expected to be released from jail due to Imran’s sentence in the Iddat case while Qureshi was arrested in recent May 9 cases.

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb announced the short verdict after accepting the appeals of the former premier and diplomat against their convictions in the case.

Khan, 71, was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a lower court on charges of making public a classified cable sent to Islamabad by Pakistan's ambassador in Washington in 2022. Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who was Khan's foreign minister during his tenure from 2018-2022, was also acquitted of the charges.

"Thank God, the sentence is overturned," a spokesman for legal affairs fromKhan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Naeem Panjutha, said in a post on the X social media platform.

What is cipher case?

The cipher case pertains to the incident in which the former premier showed a piece of paper -- allegedly a copy of a diplomatic communication -- at a public rally in Islamabad, claiming it as proof of a conspiracy against his government by a foreign power, referring to US diplomat Donald Lu, who has been at the centre of the cipher controversy. Khan had brandished the cipher paper just two weeks before the ouster of the PTI government in April 2022 through a vote of no-confidence in Parliament.

The Cipher case was filed on August 15 last year by the Federal Investigation Agency which accused Khan and Qureshi of violating the secret laws while handling a cable sent by the Pakistan embassy in Washington in March 2022. In short, the cipher case revolves around a diplomatic document that, according to the charge sheet from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), was purportedly never returned by former Prime Khan. He maintained for a considerable time that the document carried a threat from the US to destabilise his government.

The two were first indicted in October last year but the process was reversed by the Islamabad High Court while ruling against in-camera proceedings. They were indicted again in December.

A total of 25 witnesses appeared before the court, including former principal secretary to PM Azam Khan, former foreign secretary Sohail Mahmood and ex-ambassador Asad Majeed Khan.

(With inputs from agency)

Also Read: For the first time in Pakistan's history, a minority community woman became brigadier in Army I DETAILS

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