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Pakistan prevents release of 4 cleared in 2002 death of Daniel Pearl

Pakistan prevents release of 4 cleared in 2002 death of Daniel Pearl
The provincial government in Pakistan used a law to prevent those suspected in the 2002 death of Daniel Pearl from leaving prison. File Photo by the Wall Street Journal/EPA

April 3 (UPI) -- A provincial government in Pakistan on Friday prevented the release of four men suspected in the 2002 death of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, a day after a court cleared them.

The Sindh government used the Maintenance of Public Order law to keep Omar Saeed Sheikh and three others behind bars for another 90 days while prosecutors appeal the court ruling.

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Sheikh, a British native, has spent 18 years on death row after he was convicted of Pearl's disappearance and death. Fahad Naseem, Syed Salman Saqib and Sheikh Mohammad Adil were also jailed in in the case.

The Sindh high court on Thursday commuted Sheikh's sentence to seven years for just Pearl's kidnapping and acquitted the other three. The ruling brought condemnation from the U.S. State Department.

"The overturning of the convictions for Daniel Pearl's murder is an affront to victims of terrorism everywhere," Alice Wells, principal deputy assistant secretary of the State Department's South and Central Asian Affairs Bureau, said in a statement.

"We welcome Pakistan's decision to appeal the verdict. Those responsible for Daniel's heinous kidnapping and murder must face the full measure of justice."

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Pearl was working as the Journal's South Asia bureau chief investigating "shoe bomber" Richard Reid in Karachi when he was abducted by militants in January 2002. The militants said Pearl was a spy and submitted a list of demands to the U.S. government. U.S. and Pakistani intelligence were unable to find Pearl before he was killed.

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