Imran Khan to face public trial on charges of revealing official secrets

Imran Khan is serving a jail term (KM Chaudary/AP)
Imran Khan is serving a jail term (KM Chaudary/AP)

A Pakistan court has ordered a public trial in prison of former prime minister Imran Khan on charges of revealing official secrets, his lawyer said.

The popular opposition politician is already behind bars on a corruption charge but has a raft of other cases against him.

The latest ruling means journalists and supporters of Khan can attend the trial, which will be held in prison because authorities say it is too dangerous for him to appear in a regular courtroom.

The trial will determine whether Khan breached the Official Secrets Acts by waving around a confidential diplomatic letter after his ousting through a no-confidence vote in parliament in April 2022.

Khan’s lawyer Naeem Haider Panjutha said they were seeking the trial in a regular court on directions from the former premier.

Pakistan Politics
Security personnel stand guard outside Islamabad High Court (WK Yousafzai/AP)

Last week, another court ordered his trial be held in a regular court but Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain said the proceedings would continue at Adiyala Prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. Khan has not appeared in public since August, when he was sentenced to three years for corruption.

Though the Islamabad High Court subsequently suspended that sentence, he remained in custody on charges of revealing official secrets.

Khan was indicted for allegedly revealing a secret document, and legal experts say the charges carry a possible death sentence.

Khan’s close aide Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who was deputy in his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, is a co-defendant in the case. Both men have denied the charges.

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 has repeatedly insisted that the document was proof that his ousting was a US conspiracy, allegedly executed by the military and his political opponents, including his successor Shehbaz Sharif. The US, Pakistan’s military and Mr Sharif have denied the claim.

Khan’s lawyers are currently fighting a legal battle to get bail for him ahead of February 8 parliamentary elections.

According to analysts, Khan’s party still could win the most seats but he is not eligible to run for parliament due to his conviction in the corruption case.