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Briton found guilty of conspiracy to murder Pakistani blogger

LONDON:

A Briton has been found guilty of plotting to kill a Pakistani political blogger in the Netherlands after he was hired as a hitman for £100,000.

A jury trial has convicted supermarket worker Muhammed Gohir Khan, 31, of plotting to kill blogger and liberal activist Ahmad Waqass Goraya after he was recruited by intermediaries apparently based in Pakistan.

The judge postponed sentencing until March 11.

Prosecutor Alison Morgan said Goraya, who lives with his wife and two children in the Netherlands, appears to have been targeted for speaking out against Pakistani authorities in satirical social media posts.

Khan was hired by “other people who appeared to be based in Pakistan,” Morgan told the Kingston-upon-Thames jury.

In 2018, Goraya had “received information from the FBI that he was on a list of victims”, she added, saying she feared an orchestrated attack.

“He believes some of the threats he received were from internet trolls” but others were actually directed and orchestrated, she alleged.

Also read: Brit had chef’s knife to attack Pakistani blogger Waqass Goraya: court

Goraya, who has lived outside Pakistan for more than a decade, did not attend the hearings.

Khan, from east London, was charged last June with conspiring with other unknown people to assassinate Goraya in the Netherlands. He was arrested after returning to the UK by train.

British police liaised with Dutch authorities to put together a file of his encrypted communications with intermediaries on WhatsApp and Signal and security camera footage of his movements.

After traveling to the Netherlands by Eurostar, Khan spent days surveilling Goraya’s house in Rotterdam and bought a professional chef’s knife. He returned to the UK after realizing the blogger was away.

Khan, who pleaded not guilty at his trial in Kingston-upon-Thames in south-west London, admitted sending the messages and traveling to Rotterdam, but said he was only looking to the money and had never intended to commit the murder.

“He was enthusiastic about committing the murder to make money and carry out other attacks in the future,” Morgan said.

Goraya has previously reported violent attacks and threats against him.