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Pakistani Police File Terrorism Charges Against Ex-PM Imran Khan


Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (file photo)
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (file photo)

Pakistani police have filed terrorism charges against former Prime Minister Imran Khan, authorities said August 22, a move that is likely to further escalate political tensions in the country.

The terrorism charges follow a speech made by Khan in Islamabad, during which he vowed to sue police officers as well as a judge, and alleged that a close aide had been tortured after his arrest.

"We will not spare you," Khan said in the speech, in which he named the police chief and the judge involved in the case against his aide. "We will sue you."

Police cited that comment in a report seen by Reuters.

"The purpose of the speech was to spread terror amongst the police and the judiciary and prevent them from doing their duty," police said in the report.

Khan's opposition Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party published online videos showing supporters surrounding the ex-prime minister's home to potentially stop police from arresting him. Dozens of supporters gathered outside his home on August 22 chanting slogans against the government and the police.

WATCH: Supporters of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan blocked the access road to his house in the capital, Islamabad, on August 22 as they feared he might be arrested. Groups of women chanted slogans in support of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Police charged the politician with terrorism after he vowed to sue a judge and two police officials over alleged maltreatment of his aide Shahbaz Gill in detention.

Supporters Rally As Former Pakistani PM Faces Terror Charges
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Later in the day, a court granted Khan three days of prearrest bail, Khan's lawyer, Babar Awan, told reporters, after which the protesters began to disperse.

Khan appeared at the main gate of his home to wave to supporters, according to a tweet posted on the PTI's official page.

Fawad Chaudhry, a spokesman for the PTI, dismissed the accusations against Khan as politically motivated, telling reporters they were being used to block Khan from leading anti-government rallies.

Khan's political aide, Shahbaz Gill, was arrested and charged with treason earlier this month after he urged soldiers and officers to refuse to obey “illegal orders” from the military leadership. Treason under Pakistani law carries the death penalty.

Khan, who came to power in 2018, was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April as the opposition accused him of economic mismanagement amid soaring inflation and economic woes.

On August 21, Khan accused the government of temporarily blocking YouTube to deny live access to his speech at a political rally.

Khan has been delivering speeches to gatherings across the country as he pushes for new elections.

"The fascist-imported government blocked YouTube midway through my speech," Khan said on Twitter.

On August 20, authorities prohibited live broadcasts of Khan's speeches by news channels with immediate effect, but made an exception for recorded speech.

Khan's speeches were "prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order and likely to disturb public peace and tranquility", the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) said in a statement on August 20.

With reporting by Reuters and AP