Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said on Tuesday that the US Justice Department was ready to step in if Pakistan failed to reverse the court-ordered release of Omar Sheikh, who is implicated in the 2002 killing of The Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
"We understand that Pakistani authorities are taking steps to ensure that Omar Sheikh remains in custody while the Supreme Court appeal seeking to reinstate his conviction continues. The separate judicial rulings reversing his conviction and ordering his release are an affront to terrorism victims everywhere,” Rosen stated. "If, however, those efforts do not succeed, the United States stands ready to take custody of Omar Sheikh to stand trial here. We cannot allow him to evade justice for his role in Daniel Pearl’s abduction and murder."
Sheikh, who was found responsible for luring Pearl to a meeting before abducting him, was initially sentenced to death, while three other conspirators were sentenced to life imprisonment.
However, Pakistan's Sindh High Court overturned the convictions of all four men last April – a ruling that was appealed against by the Pakistani government and the family of the murdered journalist. The men have been imprisoned for the last 18 years in connection to the murder – and Sheikh's seven-year sentence for kidnapping has been counted as time served.
This month, the same court also said that Pakistan's government did not have the authority to detain Sheikh after the reversal of his murder conviction.
The body of Pearl, who went missing in January 2002, was found dismembered later in May the same year. His kidnappers also later released a gruesome video of his murder.