Prosecutors have argued that the politician mishandled a classified cable sent to Islamabad by the country’s ambassador to the US
A Pakistani court has sentenced former prime minister Imran Khan to ten years behind bars. He has been charged with leaking state secrets, according to the spokesman for the politician’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI).
On Tuesday, Zulfiqar Bukhari said, as quoted by AP, that the verdict was announced at a prison in the northern city of Rawalpindi, not far from the capital, Islamabad. The same sentence was also imposed on former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
The charges relate to the so-called cipher, a classified cable sent to Islamabad by the Pakistani ambassador to Washington in 2022, shortly after the start of the Ukraine conflict. The document allegedly suggested that the US wanted to remove Khan over his neutrality regarding the hostilities.
The ex-Pakistani PM called the cipher case on Tuesday “false,” adding that it “is being completed in violation of constitutional requirements and legal regulations.” “This is not a trial but a fixed match outcome of which was predetermined,” he added.
Echoing those comments, his party PTI noted that “there can be no more ridiculous case than the cipher.” “What can be more ridiculous than that Pakistan has imprisoned its prime minister and foreign minister for exposing the foreign conspiracy!”
Khan, a former professional cricket player who became prime minister in 2018, was ousted in 2022 in a non-confidence vote. The opposition accused him of poor governance, as well as of mismanaging the economy and foreign policy. At the time, he claimed that he had been toppled as a result of a US conspiracy.
The controversy around the politician did not end there, however, with Khan becoming a target of dozens of cases, sparking mass street protests organized by his supporters, which resulted in dozens of casualties.
In August 2023, the politician was sentenced to a three-year jail sentence on charges related to what prosecutors argued was an attempt to conceal receiving state gifts while Khan was serving as PM. The country’s judiciary, however, later suspended the sentence, granting him bail. Khan still remained incarcerated on other charges.