ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The U.S. indictment of the key suspect in the kidnapping of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl will not hasten his extradition to the United States, Pakistani officials said Friday.
A U.S. court indicted Muslim extremist Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh on Thursday out of concern that Pakistani authorities might release him. But Pakistan says it reserves the right to prosecute Saeed before considering whether to give the United States a chance to try him.
"Investigations are going on," Foreign Ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan said. "Once the investigations are completed, it would be decided whether he has to be tried here or to be extradited."
Pakistan does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S., although officials of the governments are considering ways Sheikh might be handed over. The issue is unlikely to cause friction between the countries because Pakistan is an ally in the U.S.-led war against terrorism.
A federal grand jury in Trenton, N.J., indicted Sheikh on charges of conspiring to take Pearl hostage and then kidnapping him. Because the Jan. 23 abduction resulted in the reporter's death, Sheikh could face the death penalty if he is brought to the United States and convicted.
The charges were filed in New Jersey because Sheikh is accused of sending e-mails to Pearl that were relayed through the Journal's computer network there, officials said.