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Former Pak PM Imran Khan charged with allegedly leaking national secrets

Islamabad: A special court in Pakistan on Monday indicted former prime minister Imran Khan and ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi for the alleged leaking of a diplomatic cable and violating the secret laws of the country.

Khan, 71, was arrested in August after a case was filed against him for allegedly violating the Official Secrets Act by disclosing a secret diplomatic cable (cipher) sent by the country’s embassy in Washington in March last year.

Former foreign minister Qureshi, 67, was also indicted along with Khan.

Khan’s lawyer, Umair Niazi, told the media that his client had denied the crime. He said the court’s order would be challenged in the high court.

Khan, also the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, had used that document to build a narrative that his government was ousted due to a foreign conspiracy.

The case hearing was held at the Adiala jail in Rawalpindi by special court judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain.

After the indictment, the court adjourned the hearing till October 27 when it will start the formal trial.

Speaking to the media, FIA Special Prosecutor Shah Khawar said, “Because today’s hearing was meant for indictment, it was read out in open court.” Niazi also said that Imran had questioned the charges against him. The lawyer quoted the PTI chairman as saying that a conspiracy was hatched against him, his government was toppled and there were no minutes of the meeting in question.

He said that Khan was already aware of the “London plan”, the aim of which was to “bulldoze” the PTI.

“Nawaz Sharif plays by colluding with the umpire. He cannot contest elections until he has an umpire of his choice,” the lawyer said.

The lawyer said that according to Imran, “If a big thief is to be released, then the accused in Adiala jail should also be released”.

Speaking to reporters, Advocate Usman Riaz Gul, also a member of Imran’s legal team, said they informed the court that even though the indictment date was fixed, the suspects could not be indicted until the complete statement of witnesses and case memo were received.

He added that the court rejected the defendant’s objections and indicted Imran and Qureshi.

“PTI chairman and Qureshi had stated that they could not respond to the charges until all the documents related to the case were received,” the lawyer said.

The lawyer further said the PTI chairman’s request for a bicycle for exercise in Adiala Jail was approved.

“Special Court Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain directed the jail administration to provide a bicycle in the jail,” he added.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on September 30 had presented the charge sheet against Khan and Qureshi who signed its copies.

The court was earlier set to indict Khan on October 17 but delayed it after Khan’s lawyers objected that he was not provided with the chargesheet copies.

Khan has been in jail due to the cipher case since the Islamabad High Court on August 29 granted him bail in the Toshakhana case in which he was arrested on August 5 from Lahore.

More than 150 cases have been registered against Khan since his ouster from power in April last year.

(Published 23 October 2023, 07:00 IST)

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