Washington, D.C. – Today, Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Steve Chabot (R-OH), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Freedom of the Press Caucus, released a statement following the acquittal and ordered release of Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh and three other men for their alleged role in the 2002 plot to kidnap and murder U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl:
“We are alarmed and aghast at the Pakistan Supreme Court’s decision to release Omar Sheik and others involved in the kidnapping and brutal murder of Daniel Pearl,” the Co-Chairs said. “The release of these men is a devastating blow for press freedom. Journalists work in hostile environments every day, and the lack of accountability for Mr. Pearl’s murder sends a dangerous message of impunity to militants and shadowy figures around the world who have systematically targeted journalists for their work. Our hearts are with the Pearl family. If the Pakistani court decision is not reversed, Mr. Pearl’s killer should be prosecuted in the United States.”
Sheikh was convicted of leading a conspiracy to lure Pearl to a meeting with a fictitious source in Karachi, and had been sentenced to death for Pearl’s murder and kidnapping. At the time of his kidnapping, Pearl had been investigating the link between Pakistani militants and Richard Reid, the “shoe bomber” who attempted to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami with explosives in his shoes. The U.S. Department of Justice has previously indicated a willingness to prosecute Omar Sheikh in the United States.
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