Pakistan: Imran Khan grilled in Attock jail over ‘missing cipher copy’

Pakistan Imran Khan

A joint investigation team (JIT) of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) interrogated former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan inside the Attock jail, in a case related to the cable gate saga, ARY News reported on Wednesday.

The matter pertains to March last year when the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Chairman brandished a letter claiming that it was evidence of an “international conspiracy” backed by the US to topple his government.

Last month, the probe agency had grilled the deposed prime minister — who was removed from office via a no-confidence motion in April last year — for nearly two hours in the case after the Lahore High Court (LHC) withdrew a stay order against the call-up notice to Khan by the FIA into the audio leak involving the US diplomatic cable, ARY News reported.

The FIA launched investigations against the ex-prime minister for allegedly making public a confidential diplomatic cable and keeping it in his possession.

Earlier today, FIA’s Counter-Terrorism Wing registered a case in connection with the “missing cipher” from the official record of the Prime Minister’s Office and indicted Khan in the case, ARY News reported citing well-placed sources said.

They also confirmed that the JIT grilled Khan in Attock jail on Tuesday (yesterday). “The JIT met Khan in the office of the deputy superintendent jail,” according to FIA sources.

Last week, reports emerged that the JIT probing the cipher issue was nearing the conclusion of its findings but the latest publication of alleged content of the secret cable document in an online American news organisation has forced it to expand its investigation to cover the aspect of the leak to the media.

ARY News reported citing sources said the JIT was keen to see how and who had leaked the document’s content to the media and whether the content of the cipher, as shared by The Intercept, is original or exaggerated.

Last month, the cipher case took a new turn when PTI Chairman’s then-principal secretary Azam Khan “recorded” a statement, terming the US cipher a “conspiracy” used by the ex-PM to “manipulate for creating a narrative against establishment and opposition.

Azam, who had been “missing” since June this year, recorded his statement under CrPC 164 before a magistrate, ARY News reported citing sources.

Imran, while making the claims did not reveal the contents of the letter nor mention the name of the nation that had sent it. But a few days later, he named the United States and said that “Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu had sought his removal”.

Months later, two audio leaks took the internet by storm and shocked the public after these events. The former prime minister, then-federal minister Asad Umar, and Azam could allegedly be heard discussing the US cipher and how to use it in their interest, as per ARY News.

Meanwhile, the ousted premier is behind bars at Attock Jail after a trial court in Islamabad found him guilty of concealing proceeds of Toshakhana (state depository) gifts that he received from foreign dignitaries as the prime minister of the country from 2018 to 2022, and sentenced him to three years in prison along with a fine of PKR 1,00,000.

Subsequently, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) disqualified him for five years from holding public office following his conviction.

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