Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was handed a 10-year jail sentence on Tuesday, January 30th, after being convicted of breaching the country's Official Secrets Act. The charges stemmed from the disclosure of a diplomatic cable during his tenure in office.
The case revolves around accusations that Imran Khan divulged the contents of a confidential cable dispatched by the Pakistani ambassador in Washington to the government in Islamabad. Imran Khan, ousted from the position of Prime Minister by his opponents in 2022, is currently serving a three-year prison sentence following a corruption conviction.
Imran Khan's PTI party has denounced the court ruling as a mockery and has expressed its intention to contest the decision. Khan himself has labeled all the charges against him as politically motivated.
The "cipher case" centers on the purported unauthorized disclosure of confidential diplomatic communications sent from Pakistan's ambassador in Washington to Islamabad during Mr. Khan's tenure as prime minister.
Linked to his presence at a rally in March 2022, just a month before the former cricketer's removal from power through a vote of no confidence, Imran Khan was observed on stage, showing a document alleging a foreign conspiracy against him. According to Khan, the contents of the paper conveyed a message stating, "All will be forgiven if Imran Khan is removed from power." While no specific country was mentioned, the minister was notably critical of the United States.
The prosecution argued that Mr. Khan's actions constituted the unauthorized disclosure of a classified document, resulting in harm to diplomatic relations. The latter charge carries the potential for life imprisonment or even the death penalty.
The Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is also the vice chairman of Mr. Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, has been implicated in the cipher case and has received a similar 10-year prison sentence from the special court.
The general election, set for February 8, is taking place amid allegations that authorities are hindering the PTI from conducting its campaign. Mr. Khan is contending with numerous other legal cases.