Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan sentenced to 10 years in prison

Pakistan’s former leader Imran Khan has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for leaking state secrets, his political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said in a statement Tuesday.

The hearing took place Tuesday in a closed court established under the Official Secrets Act in Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail, where Khan and former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi are already incarcerated on corruption convictions.

The pair “have been sentenced 10 years each in a sham case with no access to media or public in Cypher Case,” PTI said, adding their legal team “will challenge the decision in a higher court” as they hope to get the sentences suspended.

The sentencing is the latest in a string of legal battles faced by Khan and comes ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for February 8 – a vote the ousted former leader is unable to contest due to his previous conviction.

Tuesday’s sentencing in what is popularly known as the “cypher case” comes after Khan was accused of leaking an encrypted diplomatic cable written by a Pakistani diplomat in March 2022, based on a meeting with a US State Department official.

Khan had claimed the document proved that his ouster in a parliamentary no confidence vote in 2022 was a conspiracy to remove him from power.

The former prime minister repeatedly alleged that Pakistani officials conspired with the country’s powerful military and the US to remove him from office. All parties deny Khan’s accusations.

In the weeks after his ouster, Khan drew tens of thousands to nationwide rallies that became a fixture in the country’s volatile political scene, with his supporters thronging the streets in his defense.

Since then, the cricket icon turned politician has faced a litany of legal issues — and has dozens of pending cases against him.

Khan has been behind bars since August after he was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to three years in prison.

Despite being unable to stand in the upcoming vote, he remains a major political force owing to his widespread popularity. Khan maintains the charges against him are politically motivated, an allegation authorities deny.

TV stations are banned from running Khan’s speeches, and many of his PTI party colleagues have been arrested.

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