The United States may seek to try a man accused of killing American journalist Daniel Pearl after a Pakistani court ordered his release, according to acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.
Last week, a Pakistani court ordered the release of British-Pakistani Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the main suspect in the 2002 kidnapping and murder of Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter, after his conviction was overturned.
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“The separate judicial rulings reversing his conviction and ordering his release are an affront to terrorism victims everywhere,” Rosen said in a statement.
If efforts to reinstate Sheikh’s conviction were not successful, he said, “The United States stands ready to take custody of Omar Sheikh to stand trial here.
“We cannot allow him to evade justice for his role in Daniel Pearl’s abduction and murder,” Rosen added.
In April, a court in Sindh province overturned Sheikh’s murder conviction and acquitted three others serving life sentences in connection with the case.
The four are being held under the emergency orders of the local government while an ongoing appeal against their acquittals is heard in the Supreme Court, but defence lawyers argued against their continued detention in the southern province.
“We remain grateful for the Pakistani government’s actions to appeal such rulings to ensure that (Sheikh) and his co-defendants are held accountable,” Rosen said.
Sheikh was arrested days after Pearl’s abduction and later sentenced to death by hanging.
In January 2011, a report released by the Pearl Project at Georgetown University following an investigation into his death made chilling revelations, and said that the wrong men had been convicted for Pearl’s murder.
The investigation, led by Pearl’s friend and former Wall Street Journal colleague Asra Nomani and Georgetown University professor Barbara Feinman Todd, claimed the reporter was murdered by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks, not Omar Sheikh.
Pearl was South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal when he was abducted in Karachi in January 2002 while researching a story about armed groups.
A graphic video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate nearly a month later.