ATTOCK: It was expected that a special court established under the Official Secrets Act Wednesday extended Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s judicial remand by 14 days in the case pertaining to the missing cipher — a classified state document.
The court’s decision, issued by Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain, came after its hearing took place at the Attock District Jail following approval by the Law Ministry amid security concerns. Following the decision, Khan will remain in detention till September 13.
Imran Khan has been imprisoned in the said jail since his conviction in the Toshakhana case on August 5 for failing to properly declare gifts he received while in office.
While the Islamabad High Court, a day earlier, overturned a lower court’s decision to jail him for three years with a Rs100,000 fine — a judgment that kept him from contesting upcoming elections, he remains behind bars due to his judicial remand in the cipher case till August 30.
The FIA had officially arrested the former prime minister in the cipher case earlier this month after booking him under Official Secrets Act.
Subsequently, the PTI chief was sent on judicial remand in the cipher case till August 30 (today) at the same time while he was serving his sentence in Toshakhana case at Attock jail.
At the hearing today, Prosecutor Zulfiqar Naqvi represented the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) while PTI lawyer Salman Safdar appeared on behalf of Khan.
The PTI chief’s counsel later filed a post-arrest bail application, along with the request to hear the case in an open court, as per the sources.
Earlier, the court had also directed the superintendent of Attock jail to keep the ex-PM in the judicial lockup and present him upon completion of the remand period. Therefore he was not immediately released from jail, despite IHC orders suspending the trial court conviction in Toshakhana case.
Multiple bails moved
Meanwhile, the PTI lawyers have moved multiple bails after the court extended Khan’s judicial remand.
In one petition, filed in the special court, the PTI lawyers have requested to declare the jail trial notification “illegal”, the sources said. In another, they have sought the former premier’s post-arrest bail after which the court issued a notice to all the parties seeking their responses on September 2, according to the sources.
Parties, including the FIA special prosecutor and PTI lawyers, have been called to present arguments in the case on the aforementioned date.
Ahead of the hearing, sources told Geo News that Khan’s five-member legal team — headed by Advocate Salman Safdar — arrived at the prison to partake in the hearing.
PTI chief’s legal team comprising Naeem Haider Panjotha, Salman Safdar, Intizar Panjotha, Ali Ijaz Buttar and Umair Niazi were earlier denied request for meeting Khan, but were later allowed entry inside the jail.
The police had earlier only permitted Safdar to enter the Attock jail premises. On the other hand, one of Khan’s counsels, Buttar, questioned the former prime minister’s remand.
Bail moved for Khan’s release
Speaking to the media following the hearing, PTI chief counsel Salman Safdar said the former prime minister was arrested in the cipher case 15 days ago when he served his sentence at Attock jail.
The counsel said the ex-PM did not even know that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had made his arrest in the cipher case as well. Safadr said the PTI chief has been on judicial remand in the cipher case because the court rejected the FIA’s request for physical remand.
The lawyer said they have moved an application for Khan’s bail in the cipher case hearing of which will be held on September 2 and added that another plea had been moved to conduct an open hearing of the case.
Speaking on the occasion, the lawyer also shared Khan’s view on allegations of misplacing cipher, quoting him as saying that the original copy of the diplomatic document was with the Foreign Office and it was never lost.
‘Manipulation’ behind Khan’s extended jail stay
The PTI chairman’s lawyers claim that a “manipulation of justice” was keeping him behind bars.
According to his lawyers, the deposed prime minister — who was ousted from office after a no-confidence motion last year — was granted bail and expected to be released from Attock Jail, where he had been locked for the last three weeks.
However, they said on Tuesday afternoon Khan remained in detention because of a previous arrest, made in secret, over a case alleging he had leaked the cipher.
A day earlier, one of his lawyers told reporters outside the prison, which was surrounded by patrolling police units, that Khan was “on judicial remand” and would appear before a special court in Islamabad on Wednesday.
Bushra, Halima, Uzma meet Imran Khan in jail
Former first lady Bushra Bibi Tuesday met the PTI Chairman Imran Khan at the Attock Jail. A four-member legal team of the party accompanied her.
Lawyers and PTI workers demonstrating outside the Islamabad High Court for immediate release of Imran Khan on Tuesday.
Imran’s two sisters, Halima Khan and Uzma Khanam, arrived at the jail during his meeting with Bushra Bibi. It was her third meeting with her husband. Bushra remained with Imran for over an hour and discussed personal and political issues, sources told this correspondent.
“Bushra discussed a specific issue with her husband regarding a message from a foreign friend about his settlement abroad,” an intelligence agency source said.
A two-car convoy of Bushra Bibi was stopped at the police barrier about half a kilometer from the jail and was allowed to proceed after a thorough search of cars. Aleema and Uzma Khan had moved the IHC to meet their brother, making the Federation respondent.