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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Imran Khan acquitted in state secrets case

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Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has been acquitted of leaking state secrets but will remain in jail because of a conviction in another case.

In the run-up to elections in February, the 71-year-old – who was ousted as prime minister in 2022 – was hit with three prison sentences for cases he insists were politically motivated.

Khan was sentenced to 10 years in prison in January on charges of making public a diplomatic cable in 2022.

The Islamabad High Court upheld his appeal and cleared him in that case on Monday, but he is not expected to leave prison for now.

The former cricket star and his third wife Bushra are both serving prison sentences after a court ruled that their 2018 marriage had been un-Islamic and illegal as it came too soon after her divorce.

The couple were also found guilty of corruption over gifts received during his term as prime minister.

Even behind bars, the former cricket star remains a powerful force in Pakistani politics.

During the February elections, his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which had been forced to run candidates as independents, emerged as the single largest bloc.

However, they fell short of the majority and their rivals united to form a new government.

In the so-called “cipher case”, the prosecution argued that Khan had leaked a classified cable sent to Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington.

At a rally in March 2022, the then prime minister appeared on stage waving a piece of paper that he said showed a foreign conspiracy against him.

He didn’t name the country – but was subsequently highly critical of the US. Washington and Pakistani officials denied the claim.

Prosecutors said Khan’s actions amounted to leaking a classified document and damaging diplomatic relations.

Khan’s foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, was also sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Both men were acquitted of the charges on Monday.

“Thank God, the sentence is overturned,” PTI spokesman Naeem Panjutha, said in a post on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. (BBC)

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