Imran Khan sentenced to prison for 10 years over claims of leaking state secrets

Imran Khan, Pakistan’s former leader, receives a 10-year prison sentence for leaking state secrets; Khan denounces the verdict as being politically motivated.

Imran Khan, Pakistan’s former leader, has reportedly been sentenced to 10 years in prison for leaking state secrets, according to a statement from his political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The confidential court session occurred within the confines of Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail, governed by the Official Secrets Act. Imran Khan and former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, both serving sentences for corruption, were present during the closed-door hearing. PTI described the case as a “sham” and stated that their legal team plans to challenge the decision in a higher court.

Following the sentencing, an explosion in Pakistan’s Balochistan province resulted in at least ten casualties. The blast occurred after a rally by PTI’s national assembly candidate, Saddam Tareen. Tareen remained unharmed, and emergency measures were declared in hospitals in Sibi and Quetta, according to a health department spokesperson.

Imran Khan, reacting to the 10-year prison sentence, called it “a fixed match whose outcome was predetermined” and urged supporters to participate in the upcoming general elections on February 8. Khan, who has been behind bars since August on corruption charges, maintained that the legal proceedings against him were politically motivated.

The sentencing on Tuesday is part of a series of legal battles faced by Khan and comes just before the parliamentary elections scheduled for February 8, which he is unable to contest due to his previous conviction. The case, known as the “cypher case,” alleges that Khan leaked an encrypted diplomatic cable written by a Pakistani diplomat in March 2022, based on a meeting with a U.S. State Department official.

Khan had previously claimed that the leaked document proved his ouster in a parliamentary no-confidence vote in 2022 was a conspiracy orchestrated by Pakistani officials in collaboration with the country’s powerful military and the U.S.  All parties involved, however, denied Khan’s accusations.

Despite being barred from participating in the upcoming elections, Khan remains a significant political force due to his widespread popularity. His claims of political persecution, a ban on TV stations airing his speeches, and the arrest of several PTI party colleagues underscore the contentious political landscape in Pakistan. As the country approaches the elections, the legal challenges faced by Khan add a layer of complexity to an already tense political environment.