Pakistani authorities refuse to release the British activist convicted of the murder of an American journalist – despite judges dismissing his conviction.
Ahmed Sheikh’s sentence was reduced to seven years on Thursday for kidnapping by judges of the Sindh High Court.
He had been on death row for the murder of Daniel Pearl since 2002.
Sheikh’s lawyers believed he would be released in “days,” but Sindh officials ordered an additional three months of detention.
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A government official in Sindh said he feared that Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three other acquitted men, who were serving life terms for their duties, were “acting against the interests of the country”.
The law used to detain men in prison has already been used to detain other prominent activists, the Reuters news agency reported.
The move came after the top US diplomat for South Asia decried the acquittals as “an affront to victims of terrorism around the world.”
What happened to Daniel Pearl?
Pearl, who worked for the Wall Street Journal, disappeared in January 2002.
He had researched the links between militant Islamist activity in Karachi and Richard Reid, who attempted to detonate a passenger plane using bombs hidden in his shoes.
Prosecutors say Sheikh drew him to a meeting with an Islamic cleric. The two had established a relationship by discussing concerns about their wives, who were both pregnant at the time.
Almost a month later, a video showing the beheading of the 38-year-old was sent to the US consulate in Karachi.
Pearl’s son Adam was born in May 2002.
Sheikh was convicted of the murder of Pearl in July 2002 by an anti-terrorism court and has been on death row since.
Who is Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh?
Sheikh was born in London in 1973, where he attended public school before continuing his studies at the London School of Economics. He did not graduate because he did not return after leading aid in Bosnia after his first year.
He was arrested for being involved in the kidnapping of four tourists – three British and one American – to Delhi in 1994.
He was released from prison following requests from activists who hijacked a plane in 1999.
Indian police later accused him of transferring money to one of the activists who robbed a plane in the New York World Trade Center on 9/11, according to the Reuters news agency. .