26/11 Mastermind Hafiz Saeed to be Released From House Arrest Today
Hafiz Saeed was put under house arrest in January after years of living freely in Pakistan, one of the sore points in its fraying relationship with the United States.
File photo of Hafiz Saeed.
Lahore: Hafiz Saeed, the man behind the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, will be released from house arrest on Thursday, a move which is bound to further heat up tensions between India and Pakistan.
A Pakistani court on Wednesday ordered the release of the Islamist leader Hafiz Saeed, accused by both the United States and India of masterminding the 26/11 terror attacks on Mumbai that killed 166 people.
Saeed was put under house arrest in January after years of living freely in Pakistan, one of the sore points in its fraying relationship with the United States.
Saeed thanked the court judges in a video message released by his Islamist charity. "Thanks to God, this is a victory of Pakistan's independence," he said.
The government of Pakistan's Punjab province had asked for a 60-day extension to Saeed's detention but the request was turned down by the court, prosecutor Sattar Sahil told Reuters.
"His previous detention for 30 days is over, which means he would be released tomorrow," said Sahil on Wednesday.
Saeed has repeatedly denied involvement in the Mumbai attacks in which 10 gunmen attacked launched a series of terror attacks on Mumbai that lasted several days.
The United States had even offered a $10 million bounty for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Saeed, who heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD).
Members say the Jamaat-ud-Dawa is a charity but the United States says it is a front for the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group.
"The review board of the Lahore High Court asked the Punjab government to produce evidence against Hafiz Saeed for keeping him detained but the government failed," Saeed's lawyer A.K. Dogar told Reuters.
"The court today said that there is nothing against Saeed, therefore he should be released," he added.
India has time and again accused Pakistan of sponsoring the attacks through the LeT, which Saeed founded in the 1990s.
Pakistan has denied any state involvement in the attack. It placed the LeT on a list of banned organizations in 2002.
"The leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Hafiz Saeed's (may God protect him) internment is over," Nadeem Awan, a media manager for JuD, wrote on Facebook after the court order.
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