Lawyers for Pakistan’s imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday opposed his closed-door trial in a case in which he is accused of revealing state secrets after his 2022 ouster, saying it’s aimed at convicting the popular opposition leader quickly.
Salman Safdar, who represents Khan, said the trial should be held in an open court. He made comments outside the high-security Adiyala prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, where the former cricket star turned politician is facing a trial on charges of revealing official secrets.
The case is related to his speech and waving of a confidential diplomatic letter to a rally after his ouster in a no-confidence vote in parliament in 2022. At the time Khan showed a document as a proof that he was threatened and his ouster was a conspiracy by Washington. He accused the military and then-Premier Shehbaz Sharif of implementing a U.S. plot, a charge denied by U.S. officials, the Pakistani military, and Sharif.
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 deputy in his Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf party, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, is also a co-accused in the case. Khan has not made any public appearance since August, when he was arrested after his conviction in a graft case.
Khan is currently facing more than 150 legal cases, including charges ranging from contempt of court to terrorism and inciting violence. He 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.
On Wednesday, the special court briefly heard the case against Khan and adjourned until October 9, when Khan is likely to be formally indicted. According to Khan’s lawyer, Naeem Panjutha, authorities wanted to ensure a quick conviction and sentencing of the former premier ahead of parliamentary elections.
Despite his ouster, Khan still has a huge grassroots following in Pakistan.
Khan’s supporters and analysts believe that his party still could win the most seats in parliamentary elections, which are expected to be held in the last week of January.
Currently, Khan is not eligible to run for parliament due to his conviction in a graft case.