Islamabad: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the release of Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, an accused in the kidnapping and murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl by al Qaeda and Pakistani Islamist militants in 2002, from prison.
On Friday, the Pak government had appealed to the apex court to review its decision to free the British-born Islamist and three others convicted in the case, a day after their acquittal by a panel of three judges.
The United States also expressed concern over Sheikh’s acquittal, while top US diplomat Antony Blinken repeated a call for accountability in his first phone call with Pakistan’s foreign minister on Friday.
Meanwhile, the review panel headed by Justice Omar Ata Bandyal, stood by the decision to acquit, and recommended that Sheikh should be moved to a “rest house” before being fully released.
“He should be moved to a comfortable residential environment something like a rest house where he can live a normal life,” the judge said.
As the Pakistani authorities are making the arrangements in next two days, Sheikh will be kept in a comfortable environment in the jail with a permission to see his family, the court said. Terms of Sheikh’s release will become clearer once a written order is made public.
“It is not a complete freedom. It is a step toward freedom,” the prisoner’s father, Saeed Sheikh, told media.
Daniel Pearl, who was on assignment for US the Wall Street Journal in the months after Al Qaeda 9/11 attacks on the country, was kidnapped in Karachi and later was beheaded. As per reports, the three leaders of terrorist organisation including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed confessed to killing Pearl. Sheikh, a former student at the London School of Economics, had reportedly confessed his role in luring the journalist into a trap.