The Pakistani authorities announced on Friday that four men had been arrested in the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl after a court overturned their convictions the day before . The government will appeal Pakistan's Supreme Court on its acquittals, officials said.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court in Sindh province overturned the murder sentence of Ahmed Omar Sheikh, a high-profile, British-born militant accused of having mastered the 2002 kidnapping and killing of Mr. Pearl. It also threw his death sentence to seven years, a move that would have allowed him to be released for the time served. The convictions of three other men in the murder and terrorism case were also lifted.
The court decision was largely condemned by American officials and journalist groups. A senior US State Department official welcomed Pakistan's appeal on Friday and said, "The lifting of convictions for Daniel Pearl's murder is an affront to the victims of terrorism everywhere."
Official Alice G. Wells added "Those responsible for Daniel's hideous kidnapping and murder must face full justice."
The Pakistani Interior Ministry said on Friday in a statement that the release of the men was stopped after they were arrested again for three months after a measure that the government allowed to be detained.
The Ministry said it reaffirmed its commitment to follow proper procedures in accordance with the laws of the country to hold terrorists accountable.
officials said the release of the four men could pose a serious problem of law and order.
Wall Street Journal reporter Mr. Pearl was kidnapped and killed in the southern port city of Karachi in 2002 while working on an investigation into the links between militant groups and Al Qaeda.
The Sindh High Court had ruled that there was sufficient evidence against Mr. Sheikh in the kidnapping of Mr. Pearl, but not in his murder.
Pakistani officials said that an appeal to the Supreme Court would be made next week.
American officials said they believed that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, accused of coping with the September 11, 2001 attacks, had personally carried out Mr. Pearl's murder.