A court sentenced former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday to 10 years in prison for revealing state secrets.
Khan, a former cricket star turned politician, is currently serving a three-year prison sentence in a graft case. He has been held in the garrison city of Rawalpindi since he was arrested in May 2023.
The verdict was announced by a special court set up at the prison, according to Zulfiqar Bukhari, chief spokesman for Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, or PTI.
Authorities said Khan and his party deputy Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who also received a 10-year sentence, have the right to appeal Tuesday’s ruling in the case. Khan’s legal team was planning to appeal the conviction before the Islamabad High Court on Wednesday.
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Khan’s party said in a statement that it stands with Khan and Qureshi, “who defended Pakistan and stood for real independence.”
This case against Khan, known commonly as the Cipher case, is one of more than 150 cases that he faces since he was ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament in April 2022. Other charges range from contempt of court to terrorism and inciting violence.
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In the Cipher case, Khan is alleged to have waved a confidential document – a classified cable – at a rally after he was removed from office.
The document has not been made public by either the government or Khan’s lawyers, but was apparently diplomatic correspondence between the Pakistani ambassador to Washington and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad.
Khan has maintained his innocence and says he didn’t disclose the exact contents of the cable. The PTI feared Khan could be sentenced to death for treason.
The ruling comes ahead of the Feb. 8 parliamentary elections in Pakistan.
Although Khan is not on the ballot, as his criminal conviction bars him from running, he maintains tremendous sway over the country’s current political landscape and remains a potent political force because of his grassroots following and anti-establishment rhetoric.
Political analyst Muhammad Ali said the latest verdict was expected, for both Khan and his deputy. The two men, in his opinion, had “indeed damaged Pakistan’s diplomatic ties with the United States, and they also embarrassed the then-Pakistani Ambassador Asad Majeed to the United States,” Ali said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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