Skip to main content

Former Pakistani leader Imran Khan handed 10-year prison sentence

Ex-prime minister sentenced by special court in Islamabad over 'cipher case'
The former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan denies all allegations of wrong doing and has said the trials are politically motivated (MEE)

Former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan and ex-foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi were sentenced to 10 years in prison by a special court on Tuesday for allegedly leaking state secrets. 

Khan, who was ousted by his opponents as prime minister in 2022, is already serving a three-year jail term over corruption allegations. 

Throughout the trials, Khan, has maintained his innocence and said that the charges are politically motivated and driven by Pakistan's influential army in collaboration with his opponents. 

The latest conviction comes the week before general elections, in which is he has been barred from standing. Khan remains one of the most popular politicians in the country. When he came to power in 2018 he was seen as close to the military, Pakistan's power brokers, but a schism between the two preceded his ousting and replacement by a government led by the country's two traditional ruling parties. 

Khan and his close aide Qureshi were indicted in the "cipher case" by the special court, established under the official secrets act 2023. 

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Khan is alleged to have violated the official secrets act when he disclosed a secret diplomatic cable, called the cipher. The cable was sent by Pakistan's embassy in Washington in March 2022. Khan reportedly later lost possession of the diplomatic cable.

Both Khan and Qureshi have said that it contained a threat from the US to topple his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government. 

The case related to his appearance at a rally in March 2022, a month before he removed from power in highly controversial vote of no confidence.

Speaking to supporters on a stage at the rally, Khan held a piece of paper that he said proved there was an attempt to remove him from power by a foreign nation, which was widely thought to be the US.  

Khan said that the cable effectively said "all will be forgiven if Imran Khan is removed from power". 

The prosecution alleged that Khan's actions was tantamount to releasing classified document and damaging diplomatic relations. International media were not allowed to attend the trial.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.