Pakistan court declares jail trial of former PM Imran Khan illegal


A Pakistani court on Tuesday declared the jail trial of former Prime Minister Imran Khan on charges of leaking state secrets illegal, his lawyer said.

A special court has been conducting the trial in jail citing security concerns since Khan was indicted on the charges last month.

“Islamabad High Court has declared illegal the notification for jail trial,” said Naeem Panjutha, the lawyer, in a post on social media platform X.

It was not clear whether the declaration meant the trial would be abandoned, or whether it would start from scratch in an open court. A court order is expected to clarify that.

Khan’s legal team had challenged the law ministry notification that ordered the jail trial.

The charges against Khan relate to a classified cable sent to Islamabad by Pakistan’s ambassador in the United States last year, which Khan is accused of making public.

Former cricket star Khan, 70, who was forced from office in 2022 after losing a no-confidence vote in parliament, has had dozens of legal cases filed against him.

He has been convicted in one graft case and sentenced to three years in jail. The sentence was suspended by a court to allow his release on bail but he remains in prison in connection with other ongoing cases.

Khan says the dozens of cases are aimed at keeping him out of politics ahead of February elections in view of his differences with the powerful military generals.

The military, which has ruled Pakistan directly for significant periods since independence in 1947 and wielded influence over civilian governments at other times, denies engineering Khan’s ouster.

The elections are scheduled for Feb. 8, 2024, when former three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who returned from self-imposed exile last month, will find his biggest challenge is to wrest back supporters of Khan who, despite being in jail, remains