Special court grants Asad Umar bail in missing cipher case till Aug 29

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Former finance minister Asad Umar (centre) leaves after announcing to step down from his party position while he was released from prison in Islamabad on May 24, 2023. — AFP
Former finance minister Asad Umar (centre) leaves after announcing to step down from his party position while he was released from prison in Islamabad on May 24, 2023. — AFP
  • Umar approaches special court for pre-arrest bail plea in cipher case
  • Former minister says case based on political grounds. 
  • He assures court of cooperation with investigators.

ISLAMABAD: A special court in the federal capital on Tuesday approved Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Asad Umar’s eight-day bail in the missing cipher case registered under Official Secrets Act.

The special court was formed on Monday to hear cases filed under the Official Secrets Act.

The former federal minister had filed a pre-arrest bail plea in the special court, maintaining that the cipher case against him was filed for political victimisation to “harass and blackmail” him.

The petition stated that the case against Umar was baseless and the sections included in the first information report (FIR) are wrong.

It requested the court to accept the PTI leader’s bail plea as he was willing to cooperate fully in the investigations.

The court admitted the application and granted Umar bail till August 29, while directing him to submit a surety bond of Rs100,000 against the bail.

Speaking to Geo News after the hearing, the former federal minister rebutted the reports of his recent arrest, saying that the FIA had not arrested him.

He said that he has joined the probe on the matter of cipher twice.

Umar stated that the PTI leaders facing the allegations, in this case, will be vindicated.

Besides Umar, PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi have also been booked in the same case and are currently under custody. The two leaders are accused of using the diplomatic cipher for political gains.

The FIR — registered by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on August 15 by invoking Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act 1923 — stated that the PTI chairman and the former foreign minister revealed the contents of the classified document to unauthorised persons and twisted facts “for ulterior motives and personal gains in a manner prejudicial to the interests of state security”.

What is the cipher case?

The cipher controversy first emerged on March 27, 2022, when Khan — just days before his ouster — brandished a letter, claiming that it was a cipher from a foreign nation, which mentioned that his government should be removed from power.

In October 2022, the federal cabinet gave the green signal to initiate action against the former prime minister pertaining to the matter and handed over the case to the FIA.

The cipher case against the former premier became serious after his principal secretary Azam Khan stated before a magistrate as well as the FIA that the former PM had used the US cipher for his ‘political gains’ and to avert a vote of no-confidence against him.

The former bureaucrat, in his confession, said when he provided the ex-premier with the cipher, he was “euphoric” and termed the language a “US blunder”. The former prime minister, according to Azam, then said that the cable could be used for “creating a narrative against establishment and opposition”.

Azam said the US cipher was used in political gatherings by the PTI chairman, despite his advice to him to avoid such acts. He mentioned that the former prime minister also told him that the cipher could be used to divert the public’s attention towards “foreign involvement” in the opposition’s no-confidence motion.

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