A State Department official and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom have decried a Pakistani court’s decision to overturn the murder conviction of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was originally sentenced to life in prison for murdering and kidnapping former Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was Jewish, in 2002.
A State Department official called the court's decision “an affront to victims of terrorism everywhere,” the New York Times reported. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom also issued a statement on the court's decision, saying it was "appalled by the court’s decision to overturn the murder conviction of Omar Saeed Sheikh and release him from prison."
"After nearly two decades, there is still insufficient accountability for the horrific murder of Daniel Pearl who was executed, in part, for being Jewish," said USCIRF Commissioner Johnnie Moore. “ This terrible situation reminds us that freedom of religion and freedom of press are intertwined – they are two sides of the same coin. This Passover we grieve with Daniel’s loved ones whose pain will be relived through this renewed injustice. May his memory be a blessing.”
USCIRF Commissioner Anurima Bhargava added, “This verdict shows not only the lack of accountability for Daniel Pearl’s murder but the misplaced priorities of the Pakistani legal system. There are currently dozens of prisoners facing life sentences and the death penalty under the country’s blasphemy law, so often abused to convict religious minorities using false evidence. We urge the Pakistani government to prioritize the release of prisoners of conscience who are especially vulnerable now with the spread of the coronavirus.”