US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken with Daniel Pearl’s family and their representatives, and assured them of the American government’s commitment to get justice.
Pearl, the 38-year-old South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, was abducted and beheaded while he was in Pakistan investigating a story in 2002 on the links between the country’s powerful spy agency ISI and al-Qaeda.
Blinken spoke with members of the family of Daniel Pearl and their representatives today to assure them that the US government remains committed to pursuing justice and accountability for those involved in Daniel’s kidnapping and murder, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said on Friday.
Last week, Pakistan’s Supreme Court criticised the prosecution for its failure to prove the guilt of British-born al-Qaeda terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the main accused in the sensational kidnapping and murder of Pearl in 2002.
His murder took place three years after Sheikh, along with Jaish-e-Mohammad chief (JeM) Masood Azhar and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, was released by India in 1999 and given safe passage to Afghanistan in exchange for the nearly 150 passengers of hijacked Indian Airlines Flight 814.
The Sindh High Court on April 2, 2020 commuted the death sentence of Sheikh convicted of kidnapping and murdering US journalist Pearl in 2002 to seven years and acquitted three others who were serving life terms in the case almost two decades after they were found guilty and jailed.
The Supreme Court on January 28 ordered authorities to release the accused while issuing a split order.
The judgment said the majority of judges were entertaining no amount of doubt that prosecution had failed to bring home guilt of the accused/respondents and appellant as the evidence furnished during the trial is full of factual and legal defects.
Voicing outrage over the acquittal of Sheikh and his aides, the White House had asked Pakistan to expeditiously review its legal options, including allowing the US to prosecute them to secure justice for Pearl’s family.
Amid mounting pressure from the US and the UN, the federal government filed an application before the apex court to be allowed to join as a party in the proceedings and further seek review and recall of the court’s January 28 judgement.