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Daniel Pearl murder: Pakistan rearrests 4 acquitted men

April 4, 2020

After a Pakistani court sparked outrage for its acquittal of four men on death row for the 2002 murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl, authorities have said they will appeal the acquittal — and have rearrested the men.

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh
Image: AFP/A. Quereshi

Four men acquitted of the 2002 murder of Daniel Pearl have been rearrested pending an appeal to the ruling, Pakistani officials said on Saturday.

"It has been decided to file an appeal against the decision in the Supreme Court," said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in a statement. "It's now up to the court to dismiss or uphold the appeal," he added.

Pearl was the South Asia bureau chief of the US newspaper The Wall Street Journal. He was abducted and beheaded in Karachi in 2002 while researching a story about Islamic militants.

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A Pakistani court sparked international outrage on Thursday when it overturned the death sentence of British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who has been on death row since his conviction in 2002. Along with three alleged accomplices, he was set to walk free.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among those who expressed contempt for the decision, tweeting that "We will continue to honor his legacy as a courageous journalist and demand justice for his brutal murder."

Daniel Pearl
A photo from during Pearl's kidnapping shows him holding a copy of an English-language Pakistani newspaperImage: picture-alliance/dpa/Washington Post

Who was Daniel Pearl?

Saturday's announcement means the four men will be detained "for a period of three months pending the filing of the appeal." Pakistani law allows suspects to be held for three months without being charged.

Daniel Pearl traveled to Karachi from New Delhi following the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and was kidnapped and killed in early 2002. A graphic video showing the beheading of the 38-year-old journalist was delivered to the US Embassy around one month later.

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Nine years later, an investigation led by Pearl's friend and former Wall Street Journal colleague Asra Nomani and a Georgetown University professor made chilling revelations, claiming the wrong men were convicted for Pearl's murder.

The report claimed the reporter was murdered by Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks, not Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. Mohammed was arrested in Pakistan in 2003 and is being held in Guantanamo Bay.

Pearl's murder at the time put pressure on Pakistan's then-military government who were trying to distance themselves from the Taliban and other hard-line terrorist groups.

ed/mm (AFP, dpa)

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