Fact check: Imran Khan's 'filtered' video raises concern among supporters over jail treatment

The footage appears to show Khan with his eyes closed constantly as he drinks water and holds on to prayer beads

Follow us on Google News-khaleejtimes


Published: Tue 19 Sep 2023, 4:38 PM

Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan was arrested and sent to Attock prison on August 5, following a guilty verdict in one of more than 200 cases he has faced since being booted from office by a vote of no confidence in April 2022.

A video of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader doing the rounds on social media apparently shows him in custody. The 26-second clip has raised concern among supporters about his treatment in prison. The video was posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) on August 8, where it was shared hundreds of times.

The black and white footage appears to show Khan with his eyes closed continuously as he drinks water and holds on to prayer beads. And the post said: "Third night in jail, all because he dared to dream; he dared to stand up against the mafia that’s the root cause for this country’s devastation. Sucks."

According to AFP fact-checkers, the video is altered. The original footage was taken from an interview filmed before Khan was jailed. He is alert throughout the exchange and speaks about an alleged conspiracy against his government.

Variations of the edited clip were also shared on TikTok. Social media users left comments expressing concern for Khan's safety in jail.

"What’s happened to his eyes? May Allah give him health and strength to endure this time," one wrote.

"We will never forgive whoever is behind this torture, even those who are hiding it on the media," another said.

However, the clip has been altered and cut from longer interview footage from before Khan was jailed.

'Closed-eyes filter'

AFP found the altered clip corresponds to footage from an exclusive interview by Pakistan online media outlet WE News, posted on YouTube on August 1, days before Khan's arrest. The video is titled "Imran Khan Exclusive: 'In the elections, PTI's graph will go up due to the delay'.

The video shows Khan claiming that the popularity of his PTI party will further increase even if upcoming elections are pushed back.

There has been speculation for months that there could be a delay to polls -- for which no date has been formally announced -- as the establishment grapples to stabilise the country, which is facing overlapping security, economic and political crises.

Zubair Ali Khan, deputy editor of reporting at WE News, told AFP on September 11 that he interviewed Khan during a break in court proceedings.

"I filmed this on August 1 in the courtroom of Judge Humayun Dilawar. During this break I interviewed him for five minutes," he said.

The altered video is in black and white and appears to use a "closed-eyes filter" which gives the illusion that Khan's eyes are shut. But the original interview shows him remaining alert throughout and is in full colour.

Below are screenshot comparisons between the edited clip (left) and the WE News video (right):

The first nine seconds of the false clip match the first nine seconds of the WE News video.

Khan is seen drinking from a water bottle at the original interview's one-minute mark and raising his hand holding a rosary at the two-minute, 27-second mark (archived link). The same scenes are found in the doctored footage.

An analysis of the edited clip also shows glitches with the "closed-eyes filter" in some parts, for example at the 15-second mark, where Khan's own eyes become visible.

On September 13, Khan's jail detention related to charges of leaking state secrets was extended for another two weeks, his lawyer. The jail custody has been extended until September 26, his lawyer Naeem Panjutha said in a post on X messaging platform, formerly Twitter.


More news from World