DOJ says US 'stands ready' to try man who killed journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan

DOJ says US 'stands ready' to try man who killed journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) said the U.S. is prepared to try the man who was convicted in Pakistan of killing American journalist Daniel Pearl but was ordered released from prison.

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen noted in a statement that Pakistani officials are trying to appeal decisions overturning Omar Sheikh’s murder conviction and ordering his release but that his department will step in if those efforts fail.

“We understand that Pakistani authorities are taking steps to ensure that Omar Sheikh remains in custody while the Supreme Court appeal seeking to reinstate his conviction continues. The separate judicial rulings reversing his conviction and ordering his release are an affront to terrorism victims everywhere,” he said. 

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“We remain grateful for the Pakistani government’s actions to appeal such rulings to ensure that he and his co-defendants are held accountable. If, however, those efforts do not succeed, 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.” 

The statement comes days after a Pakistani court ordered Sheikh’s release from prison, where he’d been detained for 18 years.

Sheikh, a British national, was convicted in 2002 for coordinating the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. A court in Karachi, Pakistan earlier this year decided to not give him a death sentence for allegations of terrorism, kidnapping for ransom, and murder and reduced his conviction to kidnapping alone, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years behind bars.

Three of Sheikh’s accomplices had their convictions overturned in the same April ruling. All four had remained in custody under emergency detention, though the court decided this month that Pakistani authorities were not justified in exercising the emergency detention powers.

Pearl was kidnapped in 2002 while reporting in Pakistan and later murdered. His killers filmed his execution, video of which was circulated around the world, making it one of the highest profile killings of a journalist in modern history.