A provincial court in Pakistan on Thursday ordered the release of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the man convicted in 2002 as the mastermind of the kidnapping and murder of The Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
The Sindh High Court in Karachi set aside Sheikh’s death sentence in April, and downgraded his conviction from terrorism, kidnapping, and murder to the lesser crime of kidnapping, per The Wall Street Journal. That carries a maximum sentence of seven years, so Sheikh, who had served 18 years, was eligible for release. The same court overturned the convictions of three accomplices who had been sentenced to life in prison.
Pearl’s family is appealing Sheikh’s acquittal on the murder charge. Pakistani authorities had used emergency detention powers to keep Sheikh and the three others in prison.