Listen to Today's Edition
A Pakistani court on Monday indicted former prime minister Imran Khan on charges of revealing official secrets after his 2022 ousting, a move that could lead to a death sentence and preempt the former cricket star from running in elections in January, the Associated Press reported.
Khan and also Shah Mahmood Qureshi, a close aide and the deputy leader of Khan’s opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, will go on trial in closed-door proceedings starting Friday at a high-security prison in Rawalpindi, in central Pakistan, where he is being held.
He has denied the charges and objected to the non-public trial.
The case centers on a speech the Islamist politician gave at a rally for supporters after he was deposed via a parliamentary vote of no confidence in 2022. Then, Khan held up the alleged letter, claiming it was proof that he was being threatened and that his overthrow was a US conspiracy, allegedly carried out by the military and the government in Pakistan. The US government and Pakistan have denied these allegations.
The document, known as Cipher, has not been made public, but is thought to contain diplomatic correspondence between the Pakistani ambassador to Washington and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad.
Meanwhile, Khan is facing more than 150 charges, ranging from contempt of court to terrorism and inciting violence. In August he was sentenced to three years in prison for corruption: That sentence was suspended by the High Court in the capital, Islamabad.
Still, Khan is not eligible to run for office in the January elections because of that conviction, which is being appealed.
Over the weekend, Khan’s main political rival and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returned to Pakistan, ending four years of self-imposed exile in London after he failed to appear in a Pakistani court in 2019 following a conviction and a 10-year sentence on corruption charges.
However, a federal court recently granted him protection from arrest. He will appear before the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday.
In January, Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League party are expected to face tough competition in the elections from Khan’s party, which has high levels of support among Pakistanis.