Khan has been behind bars since he was convicted on corruption charges in August. His Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which is banned from holding public rallies, coupled the voice clone with an AI-generated image of Khan appearing to speak, allowing a digital avatar to address a rally held online.
“Our party is not allowed to hold public rallies,” Khan’s clone said in the clip, encouraging supporters to make sure they show up in big numbers for general elections scheduled for Feb. 8. “Our people are being kidnapped and their families are being harassed.”
PTI officials said Khan approved the written speech from prison, according to Reuters, which was then delivered via a livestream beset by internet disruptions. Online watchdog NetBlocks said the disruption was “consistent with previous instances of internet censorship targeting opposition leader Imran Khan and his party PTI.”
Pakistan’s telecoms regulator said the interruptions are being investigated.
Khan was removed from power after losing a confidence vote last year. His supporters rioted after his arrest in May, leading to a widespread crackdown on physical gatherings of his party. Khan remains accused in dozens of court cases with some trials taking place behind closed doors in jail despite opposition to such proceedings from legal experts concerned about his right to fair treatment.