Asad Umar secures pre-arrest bail in cipher case, refutes reports of arrest

Published August 22, 2023
Asad Umar outside the special court in Islamabad on Tuesday.—screengrab from video shared by author
Asad Umar outside the special court in Islamabad on Tuesday.—screengrab from video shared by author

PTI leader Asad Umar on Tuesday secured pre-arrest bail from a special court in Islamabad — established a day earlier to hear the cases filed under the Official Sec­rets Act — in the ongoing cipher case.

The bail was approved with surety bonds of Rs100,000.

Talking to reporters outside the court, he also refuted media reports regarding his arrest by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

These reports emerged after a first information report (FIR) was registered against PTI Chairman Imran Khan and party leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi under the Official Secrets Act. It also named Umar as one of the “associates” that investigators wanted to question in this connection.

A day earlier, the special court remanded Qureshi into FIA custody for four days. Separately, the agency also recently interrogated Imran in Attock jail, where he is currently serving a sentence in the Toshakhana case.

Umar, along with PTI lawyer Babar Awan, reached the special court in Islamabad today.

In an application submitted in court, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, he said the FIR was registered against him “in collusion with the government with mala fide intentions and ulterior motives”.

It stated that the petitioner was “falsely implicated” in the case to “blackmail, harass, pressurise and humiliate” him.

“The story narrated in the FIR is false, frivolous, fabricated, concocted, unfounded and vexatious and the petitioner has no concern whatsoever with the alleged offences mentioned,” the plea added.

Umar further said in the petition that he was ready to join the investigation “as and when required” and prayed that he be granted bail before arrest.

Talking to reporters later outside court, Umar rejected reports of his arrest. There was speculation that he was picked up in the cipher case along with PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

“Reports of my arrest are false,” Umar told reporters. “I was not arrested by FIA. I have come to the court to receive pre-arrest bail. I have cooperated with investigators in the case twice.”

With regard to the conditions of PTI chief Imran Khan’s cell in Attock jail, Umar said: “The judge himself has acknowledged the seriousness of the claims.”

The FIR

According to the FIR, a case has been registered against former prime minister Imran Khan and Qureshi under sections 5 and 9 of the Official Sec­rets Act, 1923, read with Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

They have been accused of wrongful communicat­ion/use of official secret inf­ormation and illegal retention of a cipher telegram (an official secret doc­ument) with mala fide intention, whereas the roles of former SAPM Muha­m­mad Azam Khan, former federal minister Umar, and other involved associates will be ascertained during the course of the investigations.

It said former PM Imran, former FM Qureshi and their other associates are involved in communicat­ion of information conta­ined in secret classified doc­ument (cipher telegram received from Parep Washington dated March 7, 2022 to the Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Aff­airs) to the unauthorised per­sons (i.e. public at large) by twisting facts to achieve their ulterior moti­ves and personal gains in a manner prejudicial to the interests of state security.

They held a clandestine meeting at Banigala on March 28, 2022 to conspire to misuse the contents of the cipher in order to accomplish their nefarious designs.

The accused, Imran, with mala fide directed the former principal secretary, Azam Khan, to prepare the minutes of said clandestine meeting by manipulating the contents of the cipher message to use it for his vested interest at the cost of national safety.

Moreover, the numbe­red and accountable copy of the cipher telegram sent to PM Office was deliberately kept by the former PM, with mala fide intention, and was never returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The said cipher telegram (official secret document classified as such) is still in the illegal possession/retention of accused Imran, the FIR claimed.

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