Advertisement

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan sentenced to 10 years in prison

Pakistan’s former leader Imran Khan has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for leaking state secrets, his political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said in a statement Tuesday.

The hearing took place Tuesday in a closed court established under the Official Secrets Act in Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail, where Khan and former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi are already incarcerated on corruption convictions.

The pair “have been sentenced 10 years each in a sham case with no access to media or public in Cypher Case,” PTI said, adding their legal team “will challenge the decision in a higher court” as they hope to get the sentences suspended.

Hours later, at least three people were killed and seven injured in an explosion in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, according to PTI. The blast happened after a rally by the party’s national assembly candidate, Saddam Tareen. Tareen was unharmed, a PTI officeholder said.

An emergency was declared by the hospitals of Sibi and Quetta, according to a spokesperson of the health department.

Khan later reacted to the 10-year prison sentence, calling it “a fixed match whose outcome was predetermined.” The statement, posted to his account on X, also urged supporters to show up to the upcoming general elections.

“My Pakistanis! This is your war and this is your test that you have to take revenge for every injustice by your vote on February 8 while remaining peaceful,” the statement said. “Innocent Pakistanis imprisoned in jails for the last 8 months will get justice and release now only with your vote.”

The sentencing on Tuesday was the latest in a string of legal battles faced by Khan and comes ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for February 8 – a vote the ousted former leader is unable to contest due to his previous conviction.

Tuesday’s sentencing in what is popularly known as the “cypher case” comes after Khan was accused of leaking an encrypted diplomatic cable written by a Pakistani diplomat in March 2022, based on a meeting with a US State Department official.

Security personnel gather near the site of a deadly explosion following a PTI rally in Balochistan province, in Pakistan, on January 30. - AFP via Getty Images
Security personnel gather near the site of a deadly explosion following a PTI rally in Balochistan province, in Pakistan, on January 30. - AFP via Getty Images
Policemen escort Khan as he arrives for a bail hearing at the high court in Islamabad on May 12, 2023. - Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images
Policemen escort Khan as he arrives for a bail hearing at the high court in Islamabad on May 12, 2023. - Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

Khan had claimed the document proved that his ouster in a parliamentary no confidence vote in 2022 was a conspiracy to remove him from power.

The former prime minister repeatedly alleged that Pakistani officials conspired with the country’s powerful military and the US to remove him from office. All parties deny Khan’s accusations.

In the weeks after his ouster, Khan drew tens of thousands to nationwide rallies that became a fixture in the country’s volatile political scene, with his supporters thronging the streets in his defense.

Supporters of Khan clash with police during a protest in Islamabad on May 10, 2023. - Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images
Supporters of Khan clash with police during a protest in Islamabad on May 10, 2023. - Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

Since then, the cricket icon turned politician has faced a litany of legal issues — and has dozens of pending cases against him.

Khan has been behind bars since August after he was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to three years in prison.

Despite being unable to stand in the upcoming vote, he remains a major political force owing to his widespread popularity. Khan maintains the charges against him are politically motivated, an allegation authorities deny.

TV stations are banned from running Khan’s speeches, and many of his PTI party colleagues have been arrested.

CNN’s Asim Khan contributed reporting.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com