Imran Khan taken off US-bound plane in Toronto

Last Updated: Sat, Oct 27, 2012 12:47 hrs
Imran Khan

Toronto: Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan was on Friday taken off a US-bound flight at Toronto airport for questioning, a media report said.

Khan had boarded an American Airlines plane from Toronto to New York to speak at a fundraising dinner in Long Island City, the Toronto Sun reported.

The cricketer-turned-politician had earlier given a politically-charged speech in Canada's Brampton city on Thursday about the turmoil in his homeland. He was questioned at the Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Khan had also organised a march of thousands of his supporters against the US drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal regions earlier this month.

"I was taken off from plane and interrogated by US Immigration in Canada on my views on drones. My stance is known. Drone attacks must stop," Khan tweeted Friday.

The questioning lasted about an hour before he was allowed to board a later flight to New York, the newspaper said.

The step drew sharp criticism from Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, Xinhua reported.

"PTI strongly condemns the offloading of Imran Khan at Toronto airport and questioning on principled stand against drones," party spokesperson Shafqat Mehmood said. He also sought US apology in a statement which urged the US to respect the right of freedom of expression of others.

Khan had participated in a protest earlier this month against US drone strikes on his home turf.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said they cannot divulge any information on particular cases due to privacy laws.

Khan may have been interrogated because of groups protesting his entrance to the US, the Sun said.

The American Islamic Leadership Coalition from Phoenix wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier this week, pressuring her to revoke the US visa granted to Khan because of his sympathetic views towards the Taliban. 

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