A court in Pakistan releases convicted kidnappers


The “Wall Street Journal” reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in 2002 and brutally murdered. His kidnapper was sentenced to death for the act. Now he is free again by order of a court.

The Supreme Court of the Pakistani province of Sindh has ordered the release of the kidnapper of the murdered US journalist Daniel Pearl. Ahmed Omar Said Sheikh’s lawyer confirmed this on Thursday at the request of the German Press Agency. In 2002, Sheikh was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering Pearl and sentenced to death. Three other men were sentenced to life imprisonment as helpers.

The murder of the 38-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter sparked outrage around the world. Pearl was in Pakistan to cover neighboring Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime. He was kidnapped and killed in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi in 2002. The perpetrators posted a video showing how Pearl was beheaded.

Sheikh’s death sentence overturned in April

In 2007 one of the leaders of the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, told a US military tribunal that he personally beheaded Pearl. Later, however, there were doubts as to whether he was telling the truth.

After more than 18 years, the Sheikh’s death sentence was overturned in April. The Sindh Province Court concluded that the murder conviction was based on flawed evidence. Instead, the court sentenced him to a seven-year prison sentence for kidnapping, which he has served since his detention since 2002. The three convicted accomplices were also acquitted.

However, following the acquittal, the Pakistani government ordered the four men to be kept in preventive detention for several months. This decision was overturned by the court on Thursday, citing that the authorities did not provide sufficient reasons for the detention due to the threat of terrorism. Both Pearl’s family and the authorities have appealed the verdict to the Pakistani Supreme Court.

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