New York, February 12, 2002—CPJ is hopeful that apparent progress made by Pakistani authorities in their investigation of the abduction of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl will soon lead to the journalist’s safe release.
Police said today that they have arrested Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, whom they have identified as the chief suspect in the kidnapping.
Saeed, believed to be a leader of the banned Islamic militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed), told interrogating officers that Pearl is alive, according to Pakistani investigators. Police told reporters that Saeed was arrested on Tuesday afternoon in the eastern city of Lahore, and that he was being taken to Karachi for questioning.
Also today, three suspects allegedly involved in sending the e-mails announcing Pearl’s abduction were brought before an anti-terrorism court in Karachi and charged with kidnapping. The judge ordered them held for two more weeks.
Pearl, who was last seen in Karachi on January 23, was apparently kidnapped on his way to a restaurant meeting with a source who had promised to arrange an interview with a prominent Muslim cleric.
Pressure on Pakistani authorities to solve the case has intensified as President Pervez Musharraf is due to meet tomorrow with U.S. President George Bush to discuss, among other things, his administration’s efforts to curb the activities of Islamic militants in Pakistan.