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Ex-Pakistani PM Khan indicted over sharing official secrets

October 23, 2023

The former prime minister has been in jail for months, as he faces several charges. He was indicted alongside his deputy, making his chance of competing in next year's general election all the more scarce.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party activists and supporters protest against the arrest of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan, in Karachi on August 27, 2023.
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been indicted in a case which could see him sentenced to up to 14 years in prisonImage: Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was indicted on Monday in an official secrets acts case, placing another obstacle in his path toward competing in next January's general election.

A Pakistani court indicted Khan alongside his party's deputy leader, former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Khan's party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said the case would begin on Friday, adding that it would challenge the indictment.

"He has been indicted today and the charge was openly read out," Shah Khawar of Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said outside Adiala Jail, where Khan is being held.

If found guilty, the charge could land Khan with up to 14 years in prison, or even a death sentence.

What is the case about?

Khan's indictment relates to a classified cable that Pakistan's ambassador in Washington sent to Islamabad early last year. Khan is accused of making the cable public.

Khan denies the accusation. He says the cable's contents appeared in the media from other sources.

The former prime minister had argued that the cable was proof that the US was conspiring with the Pakistani military to oust him in the 2022 no-confidence vote, over his growing ties with Russia.

Both the US and the Pakistani military deny that.

Exclusive: Imran Khan speaks to DW from his besieged home

Khan's legal woes

Khan has been embroiled in a series of legal accusations since the 2022 no-confidence vote forced him out of office. The former cricket star led protests against the government, calling for early elections.

He also protested against the military, accusing it of trying to sideline him. Pakistan's military, which has previously ruled the country directly and now wields enormous power over civilian governments, denied the accusation.

Khan was sentenced in the summer to three years in prison over graft charges. The sentence was suspended, but he remained in jail due to other accusations, including the official secrets act case.

Imran Khan's jail sentence: What are Pakistanis saying?

Khan is disqualified from the upcoming general election due to his graft conviction. His legal team, however, is trying to get him released on bail ahead of the January vote.

His biggest political rival, three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, returned to Pakistan over the weekend after four years in self-exile. He launched his party's election campaign on Saturday, promising to address inflation.

rmt/ab (AFP, Reuters)