Tue, Sep 26, 2023 1:10 PM
By MUNIR AHMED, Associated Press
ISLAMABAD (AP) — A Pakistani court on Tuesday ordered that former Prime Minister Imran Khan remain in custody for two more weeks as authorities investigate charges that he had revealed state secrets after his 2022 ouster.
The development is the latest in an unprecedented pileup of legal cases against the country's top opposition leader and hugely popular former cricket star turned Islamist politician. Since his ouster in a no-confidence vote in Parliament in April last year, Khan has campaigned against Shehbaz Sharif, who succeeded him.
The legal imbroglio underscores the deepening political turmoil in Pakistan since Khan's ouster and ahead of the next parliamentary elections, due in the last week of January. Sharif stepped down last month at the completion of parliament’s term and an interim government took over to steer Pakistan through the elections.
Khan is facing more than 150 cases, including charges ranging from contempt of court to terrorism and inciting violence, and was given a three-year sentence on corruption charges in early August. Later that month, an Islamabad High Court suspended that sentence in what amounted to a legal victory for Khan.
Still, he remained behind bars as another court — a special tribunal — ordered he be held over allegedly revealing official secrets in an incident late last year when Khan had waved a confidential diplomatic letter at a rally.
Khan described the document as proof that he was threatened and that his ouster was a conspiracy by Washington, Sharif's government and the Pakistani military. All three have denied Khan's claims.
The document, dubbed Cipher, has not been made public by either the government or Khan's lawyers but was apparently diplomatic correspondence between the Pakistani ambassador to Washington and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad.
Khan’s lawyer Naeem Panjutha told reporters that a special court hearing the Cipher case has extended custody for the former premier until Oct. 10. The custody was initially to expire on Tuesday.
Khan, 70, was being held at the high-security Attock Prison in the eastern Punjab province since early August. As part of the court order Tuesday, he was moved to Adiyala Prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, just outside of the capital of Islamabad, where better facilities are available.
Khan's lawyers say they fought a legal battle for two months to get Khan shifted to Adiyala prison.