Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has welcomed the conviction by a British court of a British supermarket worker for his involvement in a plot to kill self-exiled Pakistani political blogger Ahmad Waqas Goraya, saying it could be a “historical judgment”.
Muhammed Gohir Khan, 31, was found guilty on Friday of being a hitman recruited to kill Goraya, who lives in the Netherlands.
What did RSF and Goraya say about the verdict?
In a statement on the rights group’s website, Rebecca Vincent, RSF’s international campaigns director and UK bureau chief, said: “We welcome the jury’s decision in this case, which is a rare step towards Establishing Criminal Accountability for Transnational Crimes Against Journalists.”
“Far too often, exiled journalists are forced to live in fear in the face of continued threats from the countries they fled,” she said, adding, “It is high time to end impunity for such atrocious threats”.
Goraya himself also welcomed the decision. “The UK court has validated what we’ve been saying for a while: that Pakistani dissidents overseas are being targeted,” he told DW.
“It is the collective responsibility of the governments of the EU, the Netherlands and the UK to raise this issue with Pakistan. The investigation must not stop here. People must know who designed and funded this plan,” he added.
“I strongly suspect the State of Pakistan, its intelligence agencies, to be behind this plot. The FBI had informed me and several other dissidents based in France, the United Kingdom and Canada of a list victims from Pakistan,” Goraya said.
Who is Ahmad Waqas Goraya?
Goraya is an outspoken blogger and liberal activist who founded and co-administered Mochi, a satirical Facebook page, which he used to campaign for human rights and religious freedom in Pakistan.
The activist left Pakistan years ago and moved to the Netherlands. He has not returned to his home country since 2017, when he and five other bloggers were abducted and later released in Islamabad. He said he was tortured while in captivity.
According to RSF, the FBI told him in 2018 that he was on various “victim lists”.
What was the plot?
Prosecutors say Khan, from east London, was offered tens of thousands of dollars by a Pakistan-based middleman known as Mudz to carry out Goraya’s murder.
Khan, who was heavily in debt, reportedly accepted the offer and traveled to the Netherlands on the Eurostar train to commit the crime. He then spent days surveilling his future victim’s home in Rotterdam and purchased a professional chef’s knife to use in the planned murder, the jury heard.
After realizing the blogger was not at home, he flew back to the UK, where he was arrested on his return.
British police on Friday appealed to the public for information about the intermediary, who they believe may be a former associate of Khan.
Khan is due on March 11 and faces life in prison.