Imran Khan, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, was arrested unlawfully by the country’s anti-corruption body and should be freed right away, the Supreme Court of Pakistan said on Thursday.
Mr Khan, who faces corruption charges, was taken into custody by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from the premises of the Islamabad High Court, where he had gone to attend a hearing.
The Supreme Court, hearing Mr Khan’s plea for relief, slammed the NAB for arresting the former Prime Minister without the permission of the court registrar.
It said Mr Khan had surrendered to the court and his arrest was a violation of his right to justice. The Supreme Court asked Mr Khan to appear before the Islamabad High Court at 10 am on Friday and follow its decision.
It also allowed him to meet 10 of his supporters at a police guesthouse, where he was kept as a guest under police protection. Mr Khan is the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which has called for nationwide protests against his arrest.
He has accused the government and the military of conspiring against him and trying to kill him. He has also demanded early elections in the country.
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that arresting a person from the court premises was unacceptable and would have a “chilling effect”.
He said Mr Khan had alleged that he was tortured in the NAB custody and was given an injection to induce a slow heart attack.
Mr Khan’s arrest came a day after the military issued a strong statement against him for blaming a senior officer of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for plotting his assassination last year.
The military said Mr Khan’s allegations were “irresponsible and baseless” and “extremely unfortunate, deplorable and unacceptable”.
“Since its inception in 1947, Pakistan has seen many of its politicians face arrest and imprisonment. However, few have dared to confront a military that has seized power at least three times and governed for over 30 years.”