(AP) An Islamic militant sentenced to death for the murder of Wall Street Journal (
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British citizen, was moved earlier this month from a prison in the southern city of Hyderabad to one in Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad, said Faisal Saleh Hayyat.
Security in Hyderabad was not “not compatible with the requirements of keeping such a high profile prisoner,” he told reporters.
Hayyat said the government had been receiving intelligence reports about the need to increase security around Sheikh which forced it to “take pre-emptive action before it is late.” He did not elaborate.
Sheikh was sentenced to death for the kidnapping of Pearl in January 2002. Three other militants — Fahad Nassem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Mohammed Adeel — were given life sentences. All four have filed appeals.
Sheikh is said to have used his charm and intelligence to lure Pearl into a deadly trap in the back lanes of the southern city of Karachi, where he was kidnapped Jan. 23, 2002, and later killed.
When Sheikh was moved on Jan. 18, a prison official said he had likely been wanted for questioning about other men who have been arrested over a failed assassination attempt in Rawalpindi against Pakistan’s President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. The president escaped unhurt but 16 others were killed in the Dec. 25 attack.
Hayyat did not comment on whether Sheikh was being questioned about the attack, which authorities suspect was the work of local Islamic militants, possibly working with al-Qaida.