4 linked to reporter’s murder to stay in prison in Pakistan

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — A British Pakistani man and three others convicted in the kidnapping and killing of a U.S. journalist, whose sentences were overturned in April, will remain in government custody for another three months, officials said Thursday.

The move comes days after Pakistan’s Supreme Court paved the way for the release of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh by rejecting a government request for an immediate hearing of an appeal against his acquittal in the 2002 murder of Daniel Pearl.

According to a government order, Saeed and three others, Fahad Naseem, Sheikh Adil and Salman Saqib, who were also acquitted in the murder case and whose detention expired July 1, will remain in custody for 90 days.

Superintendent of Karachi Central Prison, Hasan Sehtoo, said the four men will remain in custody until Sept. 30 under a law that allows authorities to detain any suspect for up to one year. He said the order said the men’s release would threaten public safety.

Saeed’s lawyer, Mahmood Sheikh, said he was not aware of an extension of his client’s detention. Under an earlier court order, the appeal against the man’s acquittal will be heard Sept. 25.

Saeed was found guilty of murder and kidnapping in the 2002 death of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and sentenced to death.

In April, the Sindh High Court overturned his murder conviction and sentenced him to seven years for the kidnapping. He has already spent 18 years in prison on death row and his seven-year sentence for kidnapping was counted as time served.

Pearl’s parents have also filed an appeal to Pakistan’s Supreme Court challenging the lower court’s ruling. Pearl disappeared Jan. 23, 2002 in Karachi while researching links between Pakistani militants and Richard C. Reid, who became known as the “shoe bomber” after he was arrested on a flight from Paris to Miami with explosives in his shoes.

A videotape received by U.S. diplomats in February 2002 confirmed that Pearl, 38, was dead. He had been beheaded.

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