PAKISTAN CHALLENGES RELEASE OF MAN ACCUSED OF BEHEADING US REPORTER2 min read

                                 By- SHREYA SINGH THAKUR

On 28 January 2021 (Thursday), Pakistan’s Supreme Court directed the discharge of a Pakistani-British man Ahmad Omar Seed Sheikh implicated in the 2002 killing of American journalist Daniel Pearl and later acquitted. Initially, Sheikh and three others were accused of Daniel’s abduction and murder in 2002 but they were acquitted later in April 2020.

The prime accused in the 2002 abduction and killing of Pearl, a Wall Street Journal writer reporting rebels in Pakistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, was Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. Saeed, a Pakistani born in Britain who’d been involved in other abductions, was sentenced for the murdering and abduction of Pearl, but due to charges of insufficient proof, his lawsuit was revived.

A three-judge bench in the Supreme Court of Pakistan upheld the verdict of releasing and the acquittal of Sheikh. His involvement in Pearl’s abduction was not in doubt, and for that reason, the board imposed a seven-year jail term. Sheikh already has spent 18 years behind bars, and Khawaja Naveed, his defense counsel, hopes to be freed in the next few days. The jury also convicted three more men who’d been serving life in association with the crime.

The secretary of State Antony Blinken called this verdict “an insult to the victims of terrorism worldwide, including in Pakistan” and further said that Washington was “ready to convict Sheikh for his heinous violent crimes in the United States.” In a declaration, Blinken also said the U.S. is “profoundly concerned” by the judgment to acquit Sheikh including his co-defendants and “any proposed action to free them.” He further acknowledged that he planned to reconsider the verdict by Pakistani Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan.

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary also said the United States was “enraged by the verdict to the acquit” those who were responsible for killing Pearl and emphasized the determination of the administration to ensure justice to Pearl’s family.

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