The counsel for an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) of Islamabad police, arrested on the charge of sharing sensitive information with a foreign diplomat, argued on Wednesday in a local court that the case against his client was "fake" and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had no evidence to back it.
ASI Zahoor Ahmed, stationed at the Golra police station, was arrested on December 13 by the FIA's counter-terrorism wing and charged under the Official Secret Act. He had gone missing a few days earlier and his disappearance was widely discussed on social media platforms.
"Information sharing is punishable by 14 years but the FIA does not know what was shared because the case is false. No evidence is present so the court is requested to grant bail," the policeman's counsel Imran Feroze Malik argued in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Faizan Haider Gillani.
"This case was unmerited and the FIA registered a fake case," argued Ahmed's lawyer during a hearing to secure his client's bail.
Malik informed the court that the case was registered on the complaint of FIA Assistant Director Azmat Khan.
"The prosecution has to prove who the agent was [with whom the information was shared] and what was the information [that was shared]," Malik said.
He argued that a case under the Official Secret Act was only merited on the complaint of the federal or provincial governments, and questioned if a complaint had been submitted to the investigation agency or if it had obtained permission from someone.
"This case has been registered illegally," the counsel said. He asked why the agency arrested the ASI after his alleged meeting with the diplomat and not before it.
Malik also raised questions on the whereabouts of the diplomat, saying that he was the primary suspect and yet there was neither anything disclosed about him nor the nature of the information purportedly shared with him.
The counsel acknowledged that threat letters were found in his client's mobile phone and USB flash drives (USBs) but explained that it was routine business for police officials' government-issued gadgets to have such content.
"Police officials keep threatening letters because they have to improve security situation," the lawyer said, adding that it was not a crime to be in possession of such letters.
Malik argued that the mobile phone's forensic analysis showed that nothing was shared with the diplomat and that Ahmed was in touch with him only due to his posting at the police station's secretariat.
"Who was the diplomat that was mentioned? Was he an agent?" Malik questioned, reiterating that no information was shared with anyone.
The lawyer asked what was gained from the 10-day physical remand of his client, adding that no evidence was found despite the FIA having his client's custody.
"There is a background on why ASI Zahoor Ahmed was arrested," the lawyer informed the court, adding that his client had also gone missing three days prior to his arrest on spying accusation, only to reappear and inform his wife that "he was in Murree, where the reception was poor."
"A complaint [of that disappearance] was also registered in the police station," said the lawyer, who did not reveal any details of the backstory.
He said anyone's movement could be monitored through Safe City Cameras installed in Islamabad and questioned why no footage of the alleged meeting was pulled up by the FIA.
Malik claimed that the ASI had been picked up and dropped in Islamabad's Blue Area by a station house officer of the FIA's Special Investigation Unit (SIU).
"A police officer takes an oath when he joins the force. ASI Zahoor Ahmed gave 12 years of his life and he was declared a traitor without any evidence and his career was put at stake," the counsel said before wrapping his arguments.
At this, the judge noted that only the prosecutor was left to deliver his argument but was not present in the court. The investigating officer present informed the court that prosecutor Hasan Shikri was in Sindh and would present his arguments upon his return.
The judge said the forensic report would be made available when the challan is submitted. The hearing was adjourned till January 17.