Court grants pre-arrest bail to Asad Umar in cipher case

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Islamabad: A special court, operating under the Official Secrets Act, has granted bail to Asad Umar, a prominent leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. This decision came after a prosecutor informed the judge that Umar’s arrest was unnecessary at this point in the case.

Judge Abul Hasnat Mohammad Zulqarnain presided over the hearing on Umar’s request for pre-arrest bail in a case related to a diplomatic cable that the PTI alleged contained evidence of US involvement in the removal of the Imran Khan-led government in April of the previous year.

Special Prosecutor Shah Khawar assured the judge that there was currently no need to arrest Asad Umar, as no evidence had been gathered against him in the ongoing investigation into the cipher case. Khawar stated that if any evidence emerged in the future, Umar would be duly informed.

In response to the prosecutor’s statement, PTI counsel Babar Awan requested that the judge approve Umar’s bail in the case, and the judge granted bail on the condition of a surety bond of Rs50,000.

Judge Zulqarnain also noted that Asad Umar had expressed his willingness to cooperate in the cipher probe, but the prosecution had not yet conducted an investigation involving him in the case. He emphasized that if Umar’s arrest became necessary, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) would follow legal procedures. The judge also directed the FIA to provide advance notice to Umar before any arrest in the case.

In a related development, last month, the FIA filed charges against PTI leader Imran Khan and the party’s vice chairman, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, under the Official Secrets Act, alleging the misplacement and misuse of classified documents for political gain. The FIR against the PTI leaders stated that they had communicated information from a secret classified document to unauthorized individuals, distorting facts for their personal interests and potentially jeopardizing state security.

Subsequently, both Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi were arrested in connection with the investigation, and a special court was established under the Official Secrets Act to try the accused. In a recent development, the special court extended the judicial remand of Imran Khan and Qureshi until September 26 in the cipher case.

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