A Pakistani court on Thursday overturned the murder conviction of the man found guilty of kidnapping and murdering Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Sindh High Court reportedly found Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh guilty of a lesser kidnapping charge instead, and sentenced him to seven years in prison. Saeed has already spent 18 years on death row, and his seven-year sentenced is expected to be counted as time served—meaning he could walk free unless the government challenges the decision. The court also acquitted three others sentenced to life in connection to the Pearl killing.
The 38-year-old reporter, who was South Asia bureau chief for the Journal, disappeared in Karachi while looking into links between Pakistani militants and Richard Reid—who arrested the year before with explosives in his shoes during a flight from Paris to Miami. Prosecutors claimed Saeed promised Pearl an interview with an Islamic cleric, who police thought was involved in the plot to kill him. A videotape received by U.S. diplomats the following month confirmed Pearl’s death. Seven more suspects in the case, including those who actually killed Pearl, were never apprehended.