Imran, Qureshi’s cipher speeches political: IHC

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PTI lawyer tells court even special court judge not shown diplomatic cipher

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has noted that the speeches delivered by former prime minister Imran Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at a public rally in Islamabad on March 27, 2022, “appear to be political in nature.”

A division bench comprising the IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb resumed hearing the PTI leaders’ appeal against their conviction in a case related to the alleged misuse of a diplomatic cipher by Imran and Qureshi during the latter part of the PTI’s rule in 2022.

Just two weeks before the ouster of the PTI government through a vote of no-confidence, Imran had waved a piece of paper—allegedly a copy of a diplomatic cipher—at a public rally in Islamabad, claiming it as proof of a conspiracy against his government by a foreign power.

During the last PML-N-led government, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) registered a case against Imran and Qureshi for misusing the diplomatic cipher. A special court convicted the PTI leaders on January 30 in the case, sentencing both to ten years in prison.

During Monday’s hearing of the PTI leaders’ appeals, their counsel Salman Safdar read out transcripts of their March 27, 2022, speeches. Commenting on the speeches, the bench noted that they appeared to be political in nature.

The PTI’s lawyer informed the court that in the case, Imran and Qureshi were accused of illegally possessing the secret document, disclosing classified information to the public, and manipulating it for personal gain.

“However, even the special court judge [who convicted the PTI leaders] was not shown the said diplomatic cipher,” he said.

“If the information has been twisted, then it should be known what the information was,” Chief Justice Farooq remarked.”If the information has been twisted, then it should be known what the information was,” Chief Justice Farooq remarked.

Barrister Safdar stated that the PTI leaders were accused of holding and misusing classified information for their purposes. However, in this case, the prosecution failed to link the alleged crime with revealing secrets concerning the armed forces and sensitive areas to foreign powers.

Justice Aurangzeb inquired, “What was written in the cipher?”

The lawyer replied, “I haven’t seen the cipher, so I can’t tell what is written in it.” He said the cipher code or its text has not been shared anywhere.

“On one hand, it is said that the PTI founder has made everything public; on the other hand, it is said that if the cipher is shown, it will become public.”

The court asked what was communicated from Washington in the cipher. It said the person who had sent that communication must have pinpointed what might compromise our security if it fell into the hands of India. The bench noted there was nothing unusual in the information shared with the court.

The FIA prosecutor reminded the court that they were awaiting the court’s permission to present arguments against the maintainability of the appeal.

The bench noted that it would deliver a verdict on the merit of the appeals as well as their maintainability at the same time. The PTI’s counsel will resume his arguments today (Tuesday).

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