Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PT) Chairman Imran Khan and Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi were indicted on Monday by a special court formed to hear the cipher case filed under the Official Secrets Act.
The case was heard by special court judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain at the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.
Both PTI leaders were charged after filing a plea under CrPC 265-D to prevent the indictment. The judge, while rejecting the petitions, stated that the hearing was fixed for indictment and went ahead with it.
After the charges are filed, the prosecution's evidence is recorded, and the case trial starts. Following that, the court records the accused's testimonies and remarks.
The court issued notices to the witnesses to appear on October 27 and deferred the case until then, as per protocol.
Sources said Qureshi and Khan have pleaded not guilty to the accusations.
The indictment of both PTI leaders was postponed until today after the accused received copies of challans presented by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against them at the last hearing on October 17.
Judge Zulqarnain had scheduled the indictment for the next week since the accused lawyers had refused to accept copies of the challan during the last hearing on October 17.
The FIA used Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act 1923 in August of this year, leading to Khan and Qureshi's booking under the same law in the cipher case. According to reports, Imran lost custody of the diplomatic cable. The communication purportedly contained a US threat to overthrow the PTI government, according to the previous ruling party.
On judicial remand in the cipher case, Khan and Qureshi are presently being held at Adiala prison.
On August 5, 2023, Khan was convicted and sentenced to three years in jail in the Toshakhana case. Following this, Khan was placed under detention. He was initially kept in the Attock jail but was subsequently transferred to the Adiala jail.
It is important to note that the PTI chairman's sentencing in the Toshakhana case was suspended by the IHC on August 29.
The former prime minister and the vice chairman were found guilty in the case, according to the FIA's complaint, and they requested the court conduct their trial and sentence them.
The sources claimed that Asad Umar, the former secretary-general of the PTI, was not included on the list of suspects. In the meantime, Azam Khan, Khan's previous principal secretary, was listed as a "strong witness" in the case.
According to the sources, the PTI president kept the cipher to himself and mishandled the state secret. The FIA also attached Azam's statement, which was documented under Sections 161 and 164, along with the challan.
Khan allegedly kept a duplicate of the cipher but failed to return it, according to the sources.
Additionally, the FIA included the text of Khan and Qureshi's address dated March 27, the day the former prime minister waved a letter that he said was a cipher from a foreign country that desired the overthrow of his government.
Following the recording of the witnesses' statements under Section 161, the agency also provided the court with a list of 28 witnesses along with the challan.
Sources further revealed that the names of former foreign secretaries Asad Majeed, Sohail Mehmood, and the then additional foreign secretary Faisal Niaz Tirmizi have also been added to the list of witnesses.