White House condemns Pakistan's release of militant suspect

Mumbai 26/11

"The United States is deeply concerned that Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Seed has been released from house arrest in Pakistan", State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement on Friday.

The White House press secretary said LeT is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians in terrorist attacks, including a number of American citizens.

India considers Saeed one of its most wanted terrorists because of his involvement in the Mumbai attack, as well as a 2006 Mumbai train bombing and a 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament.

Describing the release of Hafiz Saeed as a step in the wrong direction, the U.S. said Pakistan now has an opportunity to "demonstrate its seriousness" in the fight against terrorism by "arresting and charging" the 26/11 mastermind for his crimes.

But on Friday Pakistani authorities released him after a court rejected a provincial government request to renew his detention for another 90 days.

Hafiz Saeed had been placed under house arrest in Lahore on January 31, 2017.

"If Pakistan does not take action to lawfully detain Saeed and charge him for his crimes, its inaction will have repercussions for bilateral relations and for Pakistan's global reputation", it added.

Читайте также: Pakistan calls in the army to tackle violent protests

India's External Affairs Ministry condemned the release, and said in a statement that a "self-confessed and United Nations proscribed terrorist was being allowed to walk free and continue with his evil agenda". The release of Saeed is a step in the wrong direction.

Saeed also targeted the Pakistani government for "taking dictation from foreign masters", in a clear reference to the U.S., which had put a $10 million bounty on his head.

The United States Department of the Treasury, in May 2008, had designated Saeed as a "Specially Designated Terrorist" under the Executive Order 13224. We've given them billions and billions of dollars, and what did we get?

"I'm happy that no allegation against me was proved", Saeed told supporters after his release in the city of Lahore, according to a video released by the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) Islamist charity, which he heads.

India has repeatedly asked Pakistan to re-investigate the Mumbai terror attack case and also demanded trial of Hafiz Saeed and LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi in the light of evidence it had provided to Islamabad.

The move to free Saeed infuriated officials in India and the USA, who have urged Pakistan to punish those responsible for the Mumbai attacks.

The campaign appeared to produce some success this year when Pakistani security forces assisted with the release of a Taliban-held US-Canadian family after five years in captivity.

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