Parents of murdered US journalist Daniel Pearl appeal acquittals

British-born Islamic militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh (C) is surrounded by armed police as he leaves a court in Karachi on March 29, 2002. (File/Reuters/ Zahid Hussein)
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Updated 02 May 2020

Parents of murdered US journalist Daniel Pearl appeal acquittals

  • A Karachi court sparked outrage last month when it acquitted British-born militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three other men convicted in Pearl’s 2002 kidnapping and beheading
  • Pearl’s killing provoked international condemnation, pressuring Pakistan’s military government just as it was remaking its image following years of backing the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: The parents of murdered US journalist Daniel Pearl filed an appeal with Pakistan’s Supreme Court Saturday to reverse a decision overturning the longstanding convictions of four men in the case.
A Karachi court sparked outrage last month when it acquitted British-born militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three other men convicted in Pearl’s 2002 kidnapping and beheading.
“We have filed an appeal of this decision to the Pakistan Supreme Court,” Pearl’s father, Judea Pearl, said in a video message.
“We are standing up for justice not only for our son but for all our dear friends in Pakistan so they can live in a society free of violence and terror and raise their children in peace and harmony.”
The appeal doubles up on a petition prosecutors already filed with the court.
Following the acquittals, authorities re-arrested Sheikh and the others, who will be held for at least three months while the appeals play out.
Pearl’s killing provoked international condemnation, pressuring Pakistan’s military government just as it was remaking its image following years of backing the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.
Faisal Siddiqui, the lawyer representing Pearl’s parents, told AFP there is “substantial incriminating evidence, both oral and forensic, against the accused persons for the offenses they have been tried for.”
The “Sindh High Court has misapplied the burden and the standard of proof erroneously to the facts of this case,” their appeal states.
Tariq Bilal, a senior Pakistani lawyer, said the court would take up both appeals simultaneously.
The “filing of the appeal by parents alongside the state would carry greater weight for the court as both parties have questioned the acquittal,” Bilal said.
Pearl was South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal when he was abducted in Karachi in January 2002 while researching a story about Islamist militants.
A graphic video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate nearly a month later.
Observers at the time said the killers were acting out of revenge for Pakistan’s support of the US-led war on the hard-line Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the Al-Qaeda terror network they harbored.
In a statement supporting the appeal, the Committee to Protect Journalists said releasing the four men in the case “would only add to the threats facing journalists in Pakistan and deepen Pakistan’s reputation as a haven for terrorists.”

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Facebook Journalism Project and ICFJ launch fund to support Lebanon’s news industry

Updated 13 August 2020

Facebook Journalism Project and ICFJ launch fund to support Lebanon’s news industry

  • The new program will support local media outlets

The Facebook Journalism Project, in collaboration with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), has announced that it will invest $300,000 in a program that aims to support the stabilization and recovery needs of journalists and news organizations in Lebanon affected by the Beirut explosion.

The new program called “Supporting Beirut: Response and Recovery Fund” will assist in supporting local media outlets that have suffered damage to infrastructure and resources.

ICFJ and Facebook will award $150,000 in emergency relief funds to Beirut-based news organizations and journalists directly impacted by the blast and in need of urgent financial support.

The first phase of this program will involve identifying Lebanese news organizations and journalists who require financial support. These journalists and news organizations will then be able to apply for immediate emergency relief grants. ICFJ will award grants to select Beirut-based news organizations and journalists who meet a set criteria.

“Our hearts go out to the people of Lebanon and everyone affected by this immeasurable tragedy,” said Mohamed Omar, news partnerships manager, Middle East and North Africa, at Facebook. “We’ve been getting regular updates from our contacts in Beirut; the damage to the city’s infrastructure, including its many newsrooms, is enormous. In spite of these devastating circumstances, the news industry is working hard, under extraordinary conditions, to keep people informed and updated,” he said.

“We applaud their efforts and are continuously working with our partners to both understand their needs and support them the best we can,” he added.

ICFJ, a non-profit organization focused on raising the quality of journalism worldwide, will mobilize its local networks to implement a two-phase response and recovery initiative for the Beirut crisis.

Sharon Moshavi, ICFJ’s senior vice president for new initiatives, said: “People turn to local journalists for critical information on how to keep their friends, families and communities safe. As the impact of the devastating explosion continues to unfold in Beirut, ICFJ is prepared to work with the Facebook Journalism Project to provide tailored support to Lebanese journalists and news organizations that are providing critical information to a nation in crisis.”

The Facebook Journalism Project and ICFJ will offer additional, deeper support to select Beirut-based news organizations during phase two, depending on the longer-term impacts of the crisis.

Earlier this week, Facebook announced that it would donate more than $2.1 million to local hospitals, medical institutions and NGOs to support relief and recovery efforts, $1 million of which has been matched by its community as part of a Facebook fundraiser.