On Tuesday, a special court established under the Official Secrets Act sentenced former Prime Minister Imran Khan and ex-Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to 10 years in jail in the cipher case.
The cipher case revolves around a diplomatic document that the Federal Investigation Agency’s charge sheet claims was not returned by Imran. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has consistently asserted that the document contained a threat from the United States to remove Imran as the prime minister.
In December, the Supreme Court granted post-arrest bails to Imran and Qureshi. While Imran remained in custody for other cases, Qureshi’s expected release was delayed as he was manhandled and re-arrested in a new case on May 9.
Subsequently, Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb restrained the special court from proceeding against the suspects, including Qureshi, until January 11, citing “legal errors” in the case.
The special court initiated the cipher trial anew last month at Adiala district jail after Imran and Qureshi were indicted for the second time on December 13.
Initially indicted in October, both the former premier and Qureshi pleaded not guilty. The Islamabad High Court deemed the government’s notification for a jail trial “erroneous” and annulled the entire proceedings.
In the latest developments, new state defense counsels were appointed after the previously assigned ones, who had agreed to conduct cross-examinations, failed to appear in the last two court hearings.
Imran criticized the trial, labeling it a “joke” due to both the prosecution and defense teams belonging to the government.