A BRITISH jihadi jailed over the beheading of Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl has been freed by judges in Pakistan.
The decision comes months after the same court sparked outrage by overturning the conviction and death sentence imposed on Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh.
Sheikh, from Wanstead in East London, was one of four fanatics who were convicted of murdering Mr Pearl, who was kidnapped and butchered in Karachi in 2002.
Earlier this year Sindh High Court quashed Sheikh’s death sentence for murder – instead giving him seven years’ jail for kidnapping – and acquitted the other three men.
The four were held under emergency orders of the local government pending an ongoing appeal against the acquittals in Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
But defence lawyers argued against their continued detention.
And today the Sindh court decreed that all four “shall be released from jail forthwith on the receipt of this order”.
The judges found there is “no valid reason for depriving them of their freedom,” said Mahmood Sheikh, who is representing Sheikh and his co-defendants.
A fellow defence lawyer, Nadeem Azar, said the court order would be verified by prison officials in the coming days.
Salman Talibuddin, Sindh government’s chief lawyer, said the court had made a “horrible decision” to free them.
Mr Pearl, 38, was the Wall Street Journal’s South Asia bureau chief, based in Mumbai, India.
He was in Pakistan investigating Islamist terrorism and between al-Qaeda and British jihadi Richard Reid, who tried to blow up a Miami-bound flight with explosives in his shoes.
A graphic video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate nearly a month after the journalist was abducted.
Sheikh, who once studied at the London School of Economics, was a seasoned jihadist who had been involved in previous kidnappings of foreigners in Pakistan.
He was arrested days after Mr Pearl’s abduction and later sentenced to death by hanging.
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In January 2011, a report released by the Pearl Project at Georgetown University made chilling revelations, claiming that the wrong men were convicted for Pearl’s murder.
The investigation was led by Pearl’s friend and former Wall Street Journal colleague Asra Nomani and a Georgetown University professor.
They claimed the real killer was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the attacks on New York and Washingon on September 11, 2001.