Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the prime accused in the kidnapping and murder of United States journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002, to be moved from prison, reported AP. The Supreme Court had on January 28 upheld a High Court’s order to release Sheikh.

He will be shifted to a safehouse and will be guarded. Sheikh’s children and family will be able to visit him. “It is not complete freedom,” said his father Ahmad Saeed Sheikh. “It is a step toward freedom.”

Sheikh will, however, not be allowed access to mobile and internet services and his family will be given accommodation and transport on the government’s expense, reported Dawn. Sheikh, a British national, was on death row for 18 years in connection with Pearl’s murder.

During the hearing on Tuesday, Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan told the court that the country has been affected by terrorism for the past 20 years. “Tragedies such as those at the Army Public School and in Mach have not occurred anywhere else in the world,” he said. “Omar Sheikh is not an accused but a terrorist mastermind.”

Justice Umar Ata Bandial then asked Khan to prove Sheikh’s terrorist links. “How does he relate to the incidents you have mentioned?” the judge asked. The attorney general pointed out that the government was of the view that the case against Sheikh was strong.

Justice Bandial also said that Sheikh had been in prison for 18 years, while the charges proven against him were for kidnapping. “Keeping one detained means ‘no trial’,” he said. It would be wrong to accuse someone of being a terrorist without proof, Bandial added.

Both India and the US had expressed outrage over Sheikh’s acquittal. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the ruling was an “affront to terrorism victims everywhere, including in Pakistan”. The Indian government said the ruling was a “travesty of justice”.

“This case truly demonstrates Pakistan’s intent on taking action on terror front,” India’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had said. “Our position on Pakistan taking sustained, verifiable, credible and irreversible action against terrorism and terrorist funding emanating from all territory under its control remain unchanged.”

Pearl, the Wall Street Journal’s South Asia bureau chief, was kidnapped in Karachi while he was doing research for a story about militants. A month later, the assailants sent a video showing his beheading to US officials. The killing had triggered shock and outrage across the world.