KARACHI, Pakistan

The parents of slain American journalist Daniel Pearl filed an appeal in Pakistan’s Supreme Court against the acquittal of four men earlier convicted of their son’s murder.

Four men – British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib, and Sheikh Adil – were found guilty of the abduction and beheading of the journalist in Pakistan.

In June 2002, an anti-terrorist court sentenced Sheikh to death and the other three to life.

However, last month, nearly 18 years after their conviction, the Sindh High Court in Karachi acquitted all the defendants, declaring that the prosecution had failed to prove the case against them.

The court ordered their release from custody but the Pakistani government, citing “public safety” concerns, barred the move after strong criticism from Washington.

In a video message released on Saturday, Judea and Ruth Pearl, the mother and father of the slain reporter, confirmed they had challenged the acquittal decision and urged people to support their appeal.

“[…] In early April 2020, the Sindh High Court overturned the convictions and sentences awarded to four men arrested in Daniel’s murder, including Omar Saeed Sheikh, the mastermind of the kidnapping and murder. He tricked and trapped our son, and led him to his death,” said Judea.

“We have filed an appeal of this decision to the Pakistani Supreme Court. We are standing up for justice. Not only for our son but for all our dear friends in Pakistan so they can live in a society free of violence and terror … May justice and peace prevail. Ameen.”

Pearl, a former South Asia bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal, was kidnapped in January 2002 and killed after a month in the southern port city of Karachi.

His dismembered body was found on the northern outskirts of Karachi four months after his disappearance.

In 2011, an investigative report by Georgetown University in the US claimed that Sheikh and the other three accused had been wrongly convicted for Pearl’s murder.

The investigation led by Pearl’s colleague, Asra Nomani, who had accompanied him during his Pakistan visit, claimed that the actual man behind his abduction and beheading was Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Mohammad, who was arrested by Pakistani security forces and handed over to the US in 2003, is currently awaiting trial at the American base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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