Committee to Protect Journalists hopes Daniel is alive -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Committee to Protect Journalists hopes Daniel is alive

NEW YORK- The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) remains hopeful that the abducted Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl, is alive despite the statement by a key suspect in the abduction that he thinks the reporter has been killed.

Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, the man investigators say is responsible for Pearl’s kidnapping, told an anti-terrorism court in Karachi on Friday that, “As far as I know, Pearl is dead.” Saeed had earlier told investigators that Pearl was alive.

“Dozens of contradictory statements and competing theories about Daniel Pearl’s fate have been circulating over the past several weeks,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper.

Saeed, believed to be a leader of the banned Islamic extremist group Jaish-e-Mohammed, told the judge on Friday, “I don’t want to defend this case. I did this.” He said that he carried out the kidnapping of “my own free will,” adding, “I think that our country shouldn’t be catering to America’s needs.” Saeed had been arrested earlier in India, but never tried, for his involvement in the 1994 kidnapping of a group of Western backpackers in Kashmir.

The kidnappers had demanded that New Delhi release 21 militants jailed for fighting Indian rule in the disputed territory of Kashmir, claimed by both India and Pakistan. The hostages were freed in a police raid, during which Saeed was shot and wounded. Indian authorities released Saeed and two other militants in December 1999 in response to demands made by a group of gunmen who hijacked an Indian Airlines plane and forced to land in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

The CPJ is a New York-based, non-partisan organisation dedicated to the defence of press freedom around the world.

Source: Business Recorder
Date:2/16/2002