January 31, 2021
A portrait of the late Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. (Photo: Reuters/Ian Waldie)
The sister of Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl told a Pakistani newspaper Friday that the "truth will prevail" in the case of his killer Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, as the United States said it was "ready to take custody" of the perpetrator after he was ordered released by Pakistan's high court.
"While we remain grateful for the Pakistani government's opposition to these acquittals on appeal, in light of the Supreme Court's decision, the Department of Justice reiterates that the United States stands ready to take custody of Sheikh to stand trial here on the pending charges against him," said Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson in a statement Thursday. "He must not be permitted to evade justice for his charged role in Daniel Pearl's abduction and murder."
On Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi about how to "ensure accountability" for Sheikh and "reinforcing" American concerns about the ruling, according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
Condemnations of the decision to acquit Sheikh and three others convicted in the brutal 2002 killing continued from the victims family, with sister Tamara Pearl telling Arab News Pakistan that no ruling could erase the facts of the case.
"We all know that Omar Saeed Sheikh was the mastermind of Danny's kidnapping," she told the newspaper on Friday. "His lies lured Danny into an interview in Karachi on January 23, 2002 and a month later Danny was dead. Three months later his body was found in an unmarked grave. This is the truth, no matter what any court says."
"The defendants in this court case and the justices who acquitted them know that this is the truth, but the lies continue," she added. "Neither verdict would have brought Danny back but lies are corrosive. We trust that somehow truth will prevail."
Her words echoed Thursday comments on Twitter from Judea Pearl, the victim's father, which followed an earlier official statement from the family.
"When a killer is behind bars, responsibility is absorbed by one deranged individual. When a killer is freed, society as a whole assumes responsibility for the crime," he wrote.
1/3 When a killer is behind bars, responsibility is absorbed by one deranged individual. When a killer is freed, society as a whole assumes responsibility for the crime. Today, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has handed an indictment to an entire nation, institutionally, culturally https://t.co/1FaeT0GfuZ— Judea Pearl (@yudapearl) January 28, 2021
"Today, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has handed an indictment to an entire nation, institutionally, culturally and morally, for one of the most horrific crime of the century, which forever will stain the moral standing of that nation. We urge the US Department of Justice to vigorously pursue a request for extraditing Omar Schiek to stand a trial in the US, and we hope Pakistan responds positively to such request, to rectify the injustice brought about today by two of the three judges," he continued.
Friday, the Pakistani government filed a last-ditch petition to overturn Thursday's ruling, although Pearl's lawyer told reporters it was not likely to succeed.