Pakistan extends Imran Khan’s jail custody on charges of leaking state secrets

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A Pakistani court on Wednesday extended the jail custody of former Prime Minister Imran Khan for 14 days to investigate him on charges of leaking state secrets, his lawyer said.

Naeem Panjutha said the special court held the proceedings at Attock Jail, where Khan began a three-year prison sentence on August 5 for corruption after being found guilty of unlawfully selling state gifts.

A court suspended that sentence on Tuesday and said Khan could be released on bail, but he was barred from leaving as he was still under remand in the official secrets case.

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Multiple cases have been lodged against the 70-year-old former national cricket captain since he lost the premiership in a parliamentary confidence vote in April last year.

Khan denies any wrongdoing, and says the accusations against him are politically motivated.

Khan’s supporters believe their leader is being punished for having the temerity to challenge the military’s dominant influence in Pakistan’s politics, and that the courts are being used to keep him out of a national election that is due later this year, but could be delayed till early 2024.

While the sentence in the graft case has been suspended, the conviction still stands, giving the Election Commission no reason to remove the five-year ban on Khan contesting elections.

Khan has been charged under the Official Secrets Act for making public the contents of a confidential cable sent by Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States and using it for political gains, according to a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) case report seen by Reuters.

His top aide, former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, has already been arrested and questioned in the case.

Khan alleges that the cable proves his removal was at the behest of the United States, which he said pressed Pakistan’s military to topple his government because he had visited Russia shortly before its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Washington and Pakistan’s military have denied that.

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