Pakistan's military sentences officer to death for espionage

Army chief approves death sentences for two men and 14 years in jail for another for leaking 'sensitive information'.

    Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa endorsed the punishments after legal proceedings [File: ISPR/AP]
    Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa endorsed the punishments after legal proceedings [File: ISPR/AP]

    Pakistan's military sentenced one army officer to death and another to 14 years "rigorous imprisonment" for espionage and leaking sensitive information to foreign spy agencies. 

    A civilian doctor was also given the death penalty on Thursday.

    Pakistan's army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, confirmed the death sentences for retired Brigadier Raja Rizwan and Wasim Akram, a physician employed at a "sensitive organisation", the military's media wing said in a statement.

    The second officer, Lieutenant-General Javed Iqbal, was jailed for 14 years.

    The three men were tried under the Pakistan Army Act and Official Secret Act, the statement added. 

    Pakistan's military rarely discloses such convictions, though it says the process of accountability within the army is severe.

    Information about the two officers' arrest and legal proceedings was revealed by the military earlier this year.

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    "Both are individual cases that have no link between them," spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said at a press briefing at the military's headquarters in the northern city of Rawalpindi in February.

    "There is no network as such," he added. "Please keep in mind that if we have been able to get them and identify the issue, it is a success."

    Pakistan's powerful military has ruled the country for roughly half of its 71-year-old history. 

    In a high-profile espionage case in 2017, the army sentenced Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav to death for spying and orchestrating gun and bomb attacks targeting civilians and security forces.

    Pakistan is ranked among the world's top executing countries in the world, according to rights group Amnesty International.

    At least 14 prisoners were executed and more than 250 sentenced to death in the country last year, the UK-based group said in its annual report released in April.

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News