Pakistani court frees man charged with WSJ reporter Daniel Pearl murder in 2002

The life of a journalist can be treacherous and life threatening.

The brutal murder of American Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, kidnapped and beheaded in early 2002, is a horrific crime against humanity.

Deutsche Welle – various news reports

A provincial court in Pakistan on Thursday ordered police to release Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the man charged with the 2002 murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, according to the defense lawyer, Mehmood A Sheikh.

British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh was acquitted by a provincial court earlier this year for the murder of Daniel Pearl. The Supreme Court had barred his release following the Sindh High Court decision.

Daniel Pearl assassin III 12.24.2020

British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh

In September, the country’s Supreme Court ruled that Sheikh must remain in custody while an appeal against his acquittal was heard.

“The court has set aside the detention orders,” his lawyer Khawaja Naveed told DPA news agency.

Earlier this year, the Sindh High Court overturned the death sentence for Sheikh, who had been on death row since his conviction in 2002, along with three alleged accomplices. The decision sparked outrage, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing contempt for the decision.

Wrong men convicted?

Nine years after Pearl’s murder an investigation led by Pearl’s friend and former Wall Street Journal colleague Asra Nomani and a Georgetown University professor made chilling revelations, claiming that 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.

Daniel Pearl assassin KSM IV 12.24.2020.jpg

Khalid Sheikh Mohammad in Court after capture and arrest

Mohammed — better known as KSM — was arrested in Pakistan in 2003 and is being held in Guantanamo Bay.

A US psychologist who interviewed KSM said the prisoner had told him that he had beheaded Pearl.

At the time of Pearl’s murder in 2002 the Wall Street Journal released a statement.

 Publisher Peter Kann and managing editor Paul Steiger said: “His murder is an act of barbarism that makes a mockery of everything Danny’s kidnappers claimed to believe in.”

Both the Pakistani government and Pearl’s family have appealed against Sheikh’s acquittal. The Supreme Court will resume its hearing on January 5, 2021.

Who was Daniel Pearl?

Daniel Pearl I 12.24.2020.jpg

Pearl, the New Delhi-based South Asia correspondent for the US newspaper The Wall Street Journal, was kidnapped and killed in the southern Karachi city in 2002.

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.