The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) filed a first information report (FIR) against PTI Chairman Imran Khan that referenced Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act of 1923.
After learning that the former prime minister was deliberately involved in abusing the confidential document, an investigation by the FIA's counter-terrorism department led to a case being filed against him. The former prime minister was removed from office in April of last year after a no-confidence motion.
On Thursday, the government's sources revealed that the PTI chief had been charged under Section 5 of the recently modified law. However, authorities were reluctant to release a copy of the FIR.
Offenses under Section 5, if proved in a court of law, involve punishment of imprisonment from two to 14 years and, in some cases, even a death sentence.
The cipher case against the former premier took a severe turn after his principal secretary, Azam Khan, testified before a magistrate and the FIA that the former PM had used the US cipher for his "political gains" and to avoid a vote of no-confidence against him.
According to the former bureaucrat's confession, he was "euphoric" when he gave the cipher to the previous premier and called the language a "US blunder" at the time. Azam quotes the ex-prime minister as saying that the cable may be used to "create a narrative against the establishment and opposition."
Azam said that despite his recommendation to the PTI chairman to refrain from such behavior, the PTI chairman employed the US cipher at political events. He cited the previous prime minister's advice that the cipher may be used to draw attention away from "foreign involvement" in the opposition's no-confidence vote.