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Pakistan leader jailed for 23 years

April 12, 2004 at 10:12 PM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, April 12 (UPI) -- A Pakistani opposition leader has been sentenced to 23 years imprisonment on sedition charges, local newspapers reported Monday.

Javed Hashmi was arrested Oct. 29 for producing a letter in Parliament, which he claimed he had received from army officers. The letter expressed dissatisfaction with the policies of President Pervez Musharraf, particularly his support of the U.S.-led war against the al-Qaida terrorist network.

The Pakistani government said Hashmi faked the letter and was using it to encourage mutiny within the army.

Hashmi, a leader of the opposition Muslim League party, denied the charges. He can appeal his conviction and sentence to the country's Supreme Court.

Hashmi was a minister in the government of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was deposed by Musharraf in October 1999.

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