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Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi were jailed for 14 years on Wednesday on charges of corruption, the second sentence handed to the former prime minister in two days, the BBC reported.
A court had already sentenced the cricket star-turned-politician to 10 years in prison Tuesday on charges of exposing official secrets, the latest setback for the popular candidate in the run-up to elections next week, the Washington Post reported.
Khan has been in jail since August when another court convicted him of corruption and sentenced him to three years in prison. Although that sentence was suspended, he remains jailed and continues to face other charges, including violating marriage laws.
The recent allegations revolved around Khan’s disclosure in early 2022 of a confidential diplomatic cable, in which the former prime minister claimed the United States was involved in attempts to remove him from power.
In April 2022, lawmakers passed a no-confidence motion that ousted Khan from office.
Even so, his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party called the verdict a “sham” and said it would appeal it.
The party also accused Pakistani authorities and the powerful military of deliberately rushing the sentencing to coincide with the most intense phase of campaigning ahead of the Feb. 8 general election.
Before the ruling, Pakistan’s caretaker government implemented a series of measures restricting the PTI during its campaign, including a court order to remove the party’s recognizable cricket bat symbol from ballot papers.
The government has defended its actions as legal and necessary to maintain stability
Even so, analysts noted that efforts of the country’s ruling establishment have not dented Khan’s widespread popularity, warning that the recent conviction “could stoke unpredictable tensions.”
With Khan barred from running, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appears most likely to become Pakistan’s next leader. Sharif was ousted in a military coup but returned in October from self-imposed exile in Britain after rebuilding trust with the army.