Imran Khan, Ex-Pakistan PM, Receives 10-Year Jail Sentence

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been sentenced to 10 years in jail on charges of leaking state secrets, his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) confirmed in a post on social media site X on Tuesday. The former national cricket captain became Pakistan’s prime minister in 2018. Now 71 years old,

Khan was removed from office by political opponents in 2022, and later arrested in May of 2023 and has been serving a three-year jail term on a corruption conviction. Khan and his supporters have decried the charges as politically motivated. PTI, which is Pakistan’s largest political party, wrote on X that there can be no more ridiculous case than the Cipher, referring to the name of the case in which both Khan and former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi have been sentenced to a decade behind bars.

The Cipher case centers on secret diplomatic communications between Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. and Islamabad that were allegedly leaked while Khan was prime minister. During a rally in March 2022, Khan brandished a document on stage that he said was evidence of a foreign conspiracy against him, and alleged that one particular country was adamant on seeing him removed from power.

While not explicitly naming the U.S., he was later vocally critical of Washington. One month later, he was removed from power in a vote of no-confidence by opposition lawmakers alleging corruption and unconstitutional actions. The charges were backed up by the country’s Supreme Court.

The former prime minister and his supporters said in 2022 that his ousting was a conspiracy planned by current Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the United States, the latter of which has a long and complicated relationship with the Pakistani government.

Khan’s supporters say the tensions began when the former leader began openly criticizing Pakistan’s powerful army, and that Washington also wanted to see Khan, who has long been critical of the U.S., removed. Sharif and the Biden administration deny the accusations.

Khan later made what appeared to be a U-turn on his accusations against the U.S., saying he wanted to mend his country’s relationship with the world’s premier superpower if reelected, though he is now barred from standing in the country’s General Elections on Feb. 8. Many political analysts had seen him as a likely favorite for the election.

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