Mumbai 26/11 attacks: Mastermind of Mumbai attack freed by Pakistan court

Mastermind of the November 26, 2008 Mumbai attacks, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is scheduled to be released from house detention in Pakistan on Thursday, as authorities failed to provide evidence to extend the sentence, reports claimed.

In a video tweeted by a handle linked to the JuD hours after the board issued its order, Saeed blamed India for his detention and vowed to work for "Kashmir's independence". The board's order paved the way for Saeed's release.

Saeed has denied involvement in the attacks.

Hafiz Saeed has been under house arrest since January this year and was detained after vast pressure on the federal government by the United States (USA) and severe reservations by India. He had been placed under house arrest in January. "Further recommendation for his detention is in the interest of peace and order".

"This is a victory for the people of Pakistan who support Hafiz Saeed and the Kashmir struggle", a spokesman said. On Friday, Mr Saeed is expected to walk free.

US and Indian officials did not immediately comment on the court's order.

According to CNN-News 18, Saeed would be free until the Pakistan government files review petition in other cases against Saeed. "The government can not afford to set Saeed free in the current circumstances. It can not face an worldwide backlash in the event of releasing the JuD chief".

Earlier, Saeed's counsel informed the board that a court had declared the detention of his four aides as illegal. "There is no proof against my client and the government had detained him illegally to oblige the United States", he argued.

"We plead the board not to order the release of Saeed as Pakistan may face worldwide sanctions", an official of the department had requested. But the board rejected the government's plea to extend his detention on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

On January 31, Saeed and four aides - Abdullah Ubaid, Malik Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Hussain - were detained by the Punjab government for 90 days under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.

As per the law, the government can detain a person for up to three months under various charges, but for an extension an approval from a judicial review board is required.

  • Joey Payne