Media reports falsely claim Asad Umar was arrested in cipher case
He has secured pre-arrest bail
Claim: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Asad Umar was arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on 20 August 2023 from Islamabad.
Fact: Umar has refuted reports of his arrest by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The politician’s son also confirmed to Soch Fact Check that the former minister was in Karachi at the time. Umar later secured pre-arrest bail from a special court in Islamabad in the cipher case.
Since his ouster, former premier Khan has repeatedly mentioned a cipher as evidence of a conspiracy to remove his government.
The purported cipher, sent to Islamabad last year by Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US, recounted a meeting involving US State Department officials, including Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu, and Pakistani envoy Asad Majeed Khan.
US-based publication The Intercept, claiming to have obtained a copy of the cable, reproduced its content on 9 August 2023, suggesting that the US raised objections to Imran Khan’s foreign policy regarding the Ukraine conflict and pressured the Pakistani establishment to remove him.
Fact or Fiction?
On 20 August 2023, Pakistan Observer claimed that PTI leader Asad Umar was arrested by the FIA from Islamabad, citing police as their source.
The article is titled, “Asad Umar arrested from Islamabad in cypher leak case.”
Multiple publications carried reports about Umar’s arrest following the arrest of Shah Mahmood Qureshi, former minister and a close aide of Imran Khan, in the cipher case on 20 August 2023.
On 22 August 2023, Umar denied reports of his arrest and said the FIA had not arrested him.
The politician’s son, Asif Umar, confirmed to Soch Fact Check that his father was not arrested and was, in fact, in Karachi when the news of his arrest circulated on social media.
A special court constituted under the Official Secrets Act granted Umar eight-day bail in the missing cipher case on 29 August and stopped the FIA from arresting him.
On 30 August, the court extended the pre-arrest bail of Umar till 14 September.
Besides Umar, PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Vice-Chairman Qureshi are also booked in the same case.
The FIR — registered on 15 August by invoking Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act 1923 — outlines that following an inquiry registered in the Counter Terrorism Wing of the FIA Islamabad, it was revealed that Khan, Qureshi, and their associates are implicated in communicating information from a classified document called cypher to unauthorised individuals. This communication allegedly involved distorting facts for personal gain, undermining state security interests.
According to the FIR, a secret meeting was purportedly held on 28 March 2022 at Bani Gala to conspire to manipulate the contents of the cypher for their ulterior motives. Khan allegedly directed his then-principal secretary, Muhammad Azam Khan, to manipulate the cipher’s content for his own interests. It also states that Khan retained the cipher telegram in his possession, compromising state security methods.
Conclusion: Umar said reports of his arrest by the FIA in the cipher case are wrong. His son said he was in Karachi at the time.
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