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Washington Post has an article today:

A regional Pakistani court on Thursday overturned the convictions of the men involved in the killing of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.

...

“As per the court’s judgment, Omar Saeed Sheikh has been found guilty of kidnapping and not of murder. The accused was in jail for 20 years,” the defendants’ lawyer Khawaja Naveed told The Washington Post.

Saeed had been sentenced to death for Pearl’s murder, but now with just a seven-year sentence for kidnapping, he could be released, given the 18 years he has already served.

The three other men convicted with Saeed — Fahad Naseem, a computer expert; Salman Saqib, a religious activist; and Sheikh Adil, a police officer — were ordered released by the court.

My real question is why are these men being released now. Is this in response to some event? Or did anti-American sentiment just grow enough? Any answer to that is probably too opinion based, so in an attempt to narrow the scope, my question is something like, "Is there some kind of (recent) anti-American movement in Pakistani government (more so than previously) that would cause the legal status of the above men to be overturned?"

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I think the answer is more that the original convictions were at a time when Pakistan was under a lot of pressure from the US to deal with its local terrorists.

As a BBC article notes:

His arrest and conviction in 2002 came in quick succession, at a time when Pakistan was under severe pressure from the United States to eliminate terror networks operating on its soil.

Some US journalists produced a report, claiming that the convictions were unsafe.

When a particularly heinous crime has been committed there is always a reluctance to admit the possibility that the people convicted are actually innocent. Equally sometimes claims of innocence are completely unconvicing. Certainly America's eye has moved on but whether that has led to a just or unjust acquital in this case I won't offer an opinion.

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