Dec. 24 (UPI) -- A Pakistani court ordered the release Thursday of a British-born militant who was charged in the kidnapping and death of American journalist Daniel Pearl almost 20 years ago.
Sheikh has been in custody for 18 years, since he was first captured and charged in Pearl's 2002 death.
A reporter for the Wall Street Journal, Pearl had been investigating terror group al-Qaida when he disappeared in Karachi, Pakistan. A video of his beheading was later posted online.
Sheikh was eventually given a life sentence for Pearl's death, but the Sindh High Court early this year downgraded his conviction to a kidnapping offense and acquitted three others who'd also been serving life sentences.
Pakistani prosecutors were appealing that decision and Sheikh has remained in temporary custody.
In ordering the release, the high court said the murder case against Sheikh was never proven.
Raised in Britain as the son of a Pakistan-born businessman, Sheikh studied at the London School of Economics before he dropped out to join a group organizing relief efforts for Muslims during the war in Bosnia.
Authorities say he was later radicalized, moved to Pakistan and then trained at militant camps in Afghanistan.