Special Court Extends Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s Physical Remand in Cipher Case

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A recent development in the cipher case saw a special court in Islamabad extending the physical remand of Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Vice Chairman of the PTI, for an additional two days. This special court was established specifically to hear cases filed under the Official Secrets Act.

Qureshi, a former foreign minister, was arrested earlier this month by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The arrest was made in connection with a First Information Report (FIR) filed on August 15, under the Official Secrets Act against Qureshi and ex-premier Imran Khan.

The FIR alleges that Qureshi, Imran Khan, and their associates were involved in the communication of classified information contained in a secret document to unauthorized individuals. It is claimed that they twisted facts with the intention of personal gain, which could be prejudicial to state security. The case was registered after a US news outlet, The Intercept, published what they claimed to be the contents of a diplomatic cable that had reportedly gone missing from Imran’s possession.

Imran has consistently claimed to have been ousted from office as part of a “US conspiracy”. The PTI alleges that the cipher contained a threat from the United States to remove Imran from power. However, Imran has since retracted this narrative.

Recently, the FIA conducted an interrogation of Imran Khan at Attock Jail, where he has been incarcerated following conviction in the Toshakhana case. The FIA initially began investigating Imran for revealing the contents of a confidential diplomatic cable and keeping it in his possession. However, after former principal secretary Azam Khan disclosed that the cipher had gone missing from Imran’s custody, the investigation agency expanded its probe to investigate this aspect as well.

Following Qureshi’s arrest on August 19, a local magistrate in Islamabad granted a one-day remand to the FIA. Later, a special court handed him over to the agency twice and conducted proceedings in camera.

During the recent hearing, the court directed the FIA to present Qureshi in court on August 28. After the proceedings concluded, Qureshi’s lawyer, Shoaib Shaheen, informed reporters that his client’s remand had been extended for another two days. Additionally, the special court judge stated that further physical remand would not be granted if there was no progress in the case.

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