In the cipher case, pre-arrest bail has been granted to Asad Umar of the PTI.

Asad Umar

Asad Umar, In Islamabad, the pre-arrest bail of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Asad Umar in a case related to US cipher has been granted by a special court established under the Official Secrets Act. This decision came after the prosecutor informed the judge that there was no immediate need for his arrest.

Special Prosecutor Shah Khawar told Judge Abual Hasnat Muhammad Zulqarnain, who presided over the hearing regarding Umar’s plea for pre-arrest bail in the cipher case linked to a diplomatic cable. The cable was claimed by his party to contain evidence of US involvement in the ouster of the Imran Khan-led government in April of the previous year.

The prosecutor emphasized that there was no gathered evidence against Umar at this point in the ongoing investigation of the cipher case. He assured that if any evidence surfaced during the investigation, Umar would be duly informed.

In response to this statement, PTI counsel Babar Awan requested the judge to grant bail to Umar in the case, aligning with the prosecution’s stance.

Following the prosecutor’s declaration, the judge approved bail for the PTI leader, requiring a surety bond of Rs50,000.

Judge Zulqarnain also noted that Umar had expressed his willingness to cooperate in the cipher probe, but the prosecution had not pursued him in the case. He ordered, “If Asad Umar’s arrest is deemed necessary, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) will proceed according to the law.”

Additionally, he directed the FIA to provide prior notice to Umar before any potential arrest in connection with the cipher case.

Previously, the FIA had registered a case under the Official Secrets Act against PTI chief Imran Khan and the party’s vice-chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, accusing them of mishandling classified documents for political gain.

A special court had been established under the Official Secrets Act to conduct the trial of the accused, and their judicial remand had been extended till September 26 in the cipher case.

The cipher case stemmed from a controversy in March 2022 when Khan, shortly before his removal from office in April 2022, revealed a letter he claimed was a cipher from a foreign nation. He alleged that the letter called for his government’s removal and implicated the United States. Later, the National Security Committee found no evidence of a foreign conspiracy in the cipher. Subsequently, Azam Khan, the former principal secretary, confessed that the cipher had been used for political purposes, including diverting attention from a vote of no-confidence against Khan.

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