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Tuesday, January 12, 1999 Published at 16:02 GMT

World: South Asia

Jemima Khan charged with smuggling

Jemima Khan: Charged with trying to export tiles

Jemima Khan, the wife of the former cricket star Imran Khan, has been charged in Pakistan with illegally exporting hundreds of antique tiles.

Imran Khan: "These charges are politically inspired"
More than 300 tiles on their way to Jemima Khan's mother in London, Lady Annabel Goldsmith, were intercepted by customs officials in Lahore.

Archaeological officials declared them to be three to four hundred year-old antiques of paramount archaeological interest.

But the Khans say they bought the tiles in a shop in the capital, Islamabad, for $570 after being assured by the shopkeeper that they had no historical value.

Imran Khan, who now heads an opposition political movement, accused the government of a malicious campaign to undermine his political activities.

Addressing a press conference, he said that if his wife intended to smuggle something out of the country, she would not have been likely to send the tiles in clearly marked packages through legal channels.

According to Imran Khan, a receipt for the tiles in question was presented to Customs officials, but they held the gift item on the pretext that the tiles were antique, and perhaps stolen.

He said that the customs officials were trying to give the impression that all politicians indulge in corruption.

Imran Khan's Pakistan Movement for Justice party had a very poor showing in its first poll in 1997.

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