Sunday, July 14, 2024

Courts acquit Imran Khan in three high-profile cases


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Islamabad, June 3: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party founder Imran Khan was on Monday acquitted in three high-profile cases, including the cipher case, in a major relief to the beleaguered former prime minister who was sentenced to 10 years in jail for making public a secret diplomatic communication.
The 71-year-old former cricketer-turned-politician has been in jail since August last year after being convicted in some of the nearly 200 cases slapped on him since his ouster in April 2022.
On Monday, a two-member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb acquitted Khan and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cipher case.
However, the duo are not expected to be released from prison due to Khan’s sentence in the Iddat case (illegal marriage) while Qureshi was arrested in a case linked to the May 9 violence. Qureshi is on physical remand till June 5. Khan and Qureshi were sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment in the cipher case in January by a special court, established under the Official Secrets Act. Both Khan and Qureshi had challenged the verdict in the Islamabad High Court.
The case pertains to the incident in which Khan 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.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Omar Ayub hailed the verdict and called for the immediate release of Khan and Qureshi.
In a statement, Khan’s party urged the judiciary that the “false cases” against all political prisoners be dealt with as soon as possible and they should be released from jail.
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. 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. (PTI)


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