US ready to prosecute Omar, says Blinken as Pak SC acquits Pearl's killer

Washington expected Pakistan to review its legal options to “ensure justice is served.”

Slamming the Pakistani court's decision to acquit journalist Daniel Pearl's killer Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, State Secretary Antony Blinken said that Washington is ready to prosecute Sheikh in the United States for his horrific crimes against an American citizen.

"We expect the Pakistani government to expeditiously review its legal options to ensure justice is served. We take note of the Attorney General's statement that he intends to seek review and recall of the decision. We are also prepared to prosecute Sheikh in the United States for his horrific crimes against an American citizen," US State Department release quoted Blinken.

"Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh was indicted in the United States in 2002 for hostage-taking and conspiracy to commit hostage-taking, resulting in the murder of Pearl, the South Asia Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal, as well as the 1994 kidnapping of another United States citizen in India," the statement added.

Blinken further said that the US is committed to securing justice for Daniel Pearl's family and holding terrorists accountable.

Early today, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the United States is outraged with the Pakistani Supreme Court's decision to acquit Omar Saeed Sheikh.

"The United States is outraged by the Pakistani Supreme Court's decision to affirm the acquittals of those responsible for Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl's kidnapping and brutal murder, which shocked the world's conscience in 2002," Psaki told reporters.

She said that this decision to exonerate and release, Sheikh and the other suspects and enough is an affront to terrorism victims everywhere, including in Pakistan.

"We recognize past Pakistani actions to try to hold Mr Pearl's murderers accountable, and we do note that as of right now, our Sheikh remains in detention in Pakistan under national security authorities, but 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," Psaki said.

Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the release of the man convicted in 2002 of orchestrating the abduction and killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl after effectively clearing him of wrongdoing in the case.

A three-judge panel upheld a lower-court ruling that overturned terrorism and murder convictions for Omar Sheikh, who has spent more than 18 years in prison for the crimes.

The judges also overturned a third conviction, for kidnapping. The court said it would explain its reasoning at a later date. The press Secretary responded to the Supreme court order.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday termed Pakistan court's decision to release Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh as a "travesty of justice".

Speaking at the weekly press briefing via video conferencing, Anurag Srivastava, MEA Spokesperson, said that Pakistan has continued with its "terror funding emanating from territories under its control".

"It is a travesty of justice not to find Omar Saeed guilty of any charges in this heinous act of terror. Our position on Pakistan taking sustained credible and irreversible action against terrorism and terror funding emanating from territories under its control remains unchanged," he said.

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