Ex-Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for nationwide protests after he was handed a three-year jail sentence over corruption allegations.
Khan was found guilty of not declaring money earned from selling gifts he received in office. He denies the charges and says he will appeal.
After the verdict, Khan was taken into custody from his home in Lahore.
In a pre-recorded statement posted after the verdict, he urged supporters to fight against the ruling.
“I have only one appeal, don’t sit at home silently,” he said in a video address posted to X, formerly known as Twitter. “I am struggling for you and the country and your children’s future,” he added.
The former cricketer-turned-politician, 70, was elected in 2018, but was ousted in a no-confidence vote last year after falling out with Pakistan’s powerful military.
Khan is facing more than 100 cases brought against him since his removal – charges he says are politically motivated.
However, the government has adamantly denied that there was any political motivation in Khan’s arrest or disqualification. Marriyum Aurangzeb, Pakistan’s minister of information and broadcasting, told the BBC: “You have to be accountable for your deeds in law. This has nothing to do with politics. A person who has been proven guilty by the court has to be arrested.”
Saturday’s verdict centred on charges that Mr Khan incorrectly declared details of presents from foreign dignitaries and proceeds from their alleged sale.
The gifts – reported to be worth more than 140m Pakistani rupees ($635 000) – included Rolex watches, a ring and a pair of cuff links.
“His dishonesty has been established beyond doubt,” Judge Humayun Dilawar wrote in his ruling. Outside the courthouse, some pro-government demonstrators chanted “your show is over Khan”.
Judge Dilawar said police had been instructed to arrest Khan immediately. Within 15 minutes of the verdict, footage began to circulate on social media showing a line of police cars and trucks taking him away.
Imran Khan’s lawyer, Intazar Hussain Panjutha, told the BBC the trial had been conducted by “a kangaroo-type court” in which “the accused was never given the opportunity to defend himself”.
“As a consequence of today’s conviction, he has been barred to take part in the politics for five years,” Panjutha said.
“But if the sentence and the conviction is suspended as we are hoping by the superior courts, he will then be able to come back to politics.”
Khan has been sent to Attock jail, a small facility in Punjab province with historical ties to the military, about 85km (52 miles) from the capital Islamabad. A number of members of Khan’s party have previously been held at the compound, local media reported. (BBC)