White House 'outraged' by Pakistan order to release journalist's accused killer

By: AFP      Published: 01:04 AM, 29 Jan, 2021
White House 'outraged' by Pakistan order to release journalist's accused killer

The White House said Thursday it is "outraged" at the order by Pakistan's Supreme Court to release the British-born militant convicted of masterminding the 2002 murder by jihadists of US journalist Daniel Pearl.

The administration is "outraged by the Pakistani Supreme Court's decision," President Joe Biden's chief spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

She called the ruling "an affront to terrorism victims everywhere" and called on the Pakistani government to "review its legal options."

Late Thursday the Supreme Court ruled that Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three accomplices connected to the case should "be released forthwith", although it was not clear when that would take place.

Psaki said the United States recognizes "past Pakistani actions to try to hold Mr Pearl's murderers accountable and we do note that as of right now Omar Sheikh remains in detention."

"We call on the Pakistani government to expeditiously review its legal options, including allowing the United States to prosecute Sheikh for the brutal murder of an American citizen and journalist."

Pearl was the South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal when he was abducted in Karachi in January 2002 while researching a story about Islamist militants.

Nearly a month later, after a string of ransom demands were made, a graphic video showing his decapitation was given to officials.

Sheikh, a British-born jihadist who once studied at the London School of Economics and had been involved in previous kidnappings of foreigners, was arrested days after Pearl's abduction. 

He was later sentenced to death by hanging after telling a Karachi court that Pearl had already been killed days before the gruesome video of the journalist's beheading had been released.