Mr. Sheikh was indicted in March 2002 by a New Jersey grand jury for the kidnapping of Pearl resulting in his murder. The indictment is still viable and it is a case for which the U.S. can seek the death penalty. In announcing the indictment, Attorney General John Ashcroft also announced the unsealing of an indictment charging Mr. Sheikh with the kidnapping of the American tourist in India.
Mr. Sheikh and his co-conspirators were also charged in Pakistan. They were tried in 2002 and convicted. While his accomplices were given life sentences, Mr. Sheikh was sentenced to death. His appeal languished until April, when a Pakistani court ordered the release of all the defendants on the grounds that there was conflicting testimony at the original trial and insufficient evidence to support the murder charge. The Pakistani authorities have been fighting the release and have kept Mr. Sheikh jailed. But on Thursday the court again ordered his release.
The U.S. and Pakistan don’t have a clear, formal extradition treaty. Attorneys from my former office asked the Justice Department to notify Pakistan officially that the U.S. would like Mr. Sheikh extradited if he is ever released. No such formal request has ever been made. That is an outrage.