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US Discusses Extradition of Pearl Kidnap Suspect with Musharraf - 2002-02-26


The American ambassador to Pakistan has met with President Pervez Musharraf to discuss the possible extradition of a key suspect in the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

The meeting took place after President Bush said Monday he would like to see the suspected mastermind of the kidnapping and murder of Mr. Pearl brought to the United States.

Embassy spokesman Mark Wentworth said ambassador Wendy Chamberlin thanked President Musharraf for the ongoing police cooperation in the case.

Without elaborating, the spokesman says the U.S. ambassador also raised the question of extradition of Ahmed Omar Sheikh, who has said he is the mastermind of Mr. Pearl's abduction.

The British-born Islamic militant is also wanted in the United States, in connection, with the 1994 kidnapping of an American citizen in India.

During a court hearing in Karachi earlier this month, Mr. Sheikh said he is responsible for the abduction of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. A week later, Pakistani investigators received a gruesome videotape showing the slaying of the American reporter.

U.S. officials are said to have requested Mr. Sheikh's extradition to the United States, even before his name came up in connection with Mr. Pearl's murder.

The American reporter was kidnapped January 23 in Karachi by members of a previously-unknown radical Islamic group. He was working on a story about Pakistani militants allegedly linked to terror mastermind Osama bin Laden.

On Monday, an anti-terrorism court in Karachi ordered the lead defendant, Omar Sheikh, be kept in custody for another 14 days. The judge granted a prosecution request for the continued detention of Mr. Sheikh and two other men implicated in the case. The prosecuting attorney says the government needs more time to further build its case and to recover the body of Mr. Pearl.

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