The United States has reacted sharply to a decision by the Supreme Court of Pakistan to release from prison Ahmed Omar Sheikh, a key accused in the brutal killing of journalist Daniel Pearl. US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken has called it “an affront to terrorism victims everywhere.”

Pearl who was the South Asia Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal at the time, was working on a story in Karachi, Pakistan in the months following the 9/11 attacks. He was kidnapped from his hotel and beheaded by terrorists in 2002. A video of the beheading was released by the terror group.

Sheikh was accused of being the mastermind of the operation. He was arrested by Pakistani authorities and convicted in 2002 itself. However, in April 2020 the Sindh High Court acquitted him, and now the Pakistani Supreme Court has ordered that Sheikh be released from prison and be held in a government rest house, as per various media reports.

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken released a statement saying, “The United States is deeply concerned by the Pakistani Supreme Court’s decision to acquit those involved in Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping and murder and any proposed action to release them.” He said, “The court’s decision is an affront to terrorism victims everywhere, including in Pakistan. The United States recognizes past Pakistani actions to hold Omar Sheikh accountable and notes that Sheikh currently remains detained under Pakistani law. We expect the Pakistani government to expeditiously review its legal options to ensure justice is served.” Blinken also said, “We are committed to securing justice for Daniel Pearl’s family and holding terrorists accountable.” 

*Feature image: Public Domain image via Wikimedia Commons.