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Did Pakistan hire a hitman to kill ‘outspoken’ blogger Ahmad Waqass Goraya? He says yes

Exiled political blogger Ahmad Waqass Goraya has accused Pakistan of being behind a plot to kill him.

London:

An exiled political blogger on Friday accused Pakistan of being behind a plot to kill him after a British court convicted a hitman.

Supermarket worker Muhammed Gohir Khan, 31, was found guilty of plotting to kill Ahmad Waqass Goraya after he was recruited by intermediaries apparently based in Pakistan.

The judge in Kingston-upon-Thames, south-west London, adjourned the case for sentencing on March 11, with Khan facing life in prison.

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.

Goraya, an outspoken blogger and liberal activist who has lived outside Pakistan for more than a decade, did not attend the hearings.

After the jury’s unanimous verdict, he said he was “glad that there is at least one new precedent: ‘if you prosecute someone in exile, you will be prosecuted'”.

However, he said he was disappointed that the trial did not identify the perpetrators of the crime.

“I hope the real people who sent these guys will also be prosecuted one day,” he told AFP.

Giving the amount of money involved and the knowledge the plotters had of his secret location, he said: “I’m sure it’s the Pakistani state.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said the verdict “could serve as a historic judgement” and was “a rare step towards establishing criminal accountability for transnational crimes against journalists”.

Rebecca Vincent, RSF’s UK bureau chief, said: “We call on the relevant authorities to continue their investigations, to identify the intermediary and anyone else involved in this horrific plot and to ensure that criminal justice is fully applied.”

On Friday, British police appealed to the public for information about the intermediary who contacted Khan.

‘Enthusiastic’

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 the Pakistani government and military in satirical social media posts.

Khan was hired by “other people who appeared to be based in Pakistan,” she told the jury.

In 2018, the court heard that Goraya had received information from the FBI that he was on a “victim list” and believed that some of the threats he had received were directed and orchestrated by the ISI, the intelligence agency. Pakistani intelligence.

The jury heard that Khan had been contacted by a Pakistan-based intermediary known as Mudz, who had promised $137,000, 120,000 euros in fees for the “work”, from which he would take a £20,000 reduction.

He also promised Khan riches in “Jannah” or paradise.

Khan received several thousand pounds for his expenses in a Pakistani bank account, promising, “Bro, I’ll make it happen.”

At the time, he had debts amounting to more than 200,000 pounds, the court was told.

London’s Met Police on Friday appealed to the public for information on ‘Mudz’, saying detectives believed he was a former associate of Khan known as Muzzamil.

Met counterterrorism officers liaised with their Dutch counterparts to build a dossier of thousands of encrypted messages and security camera footage of Khan’s 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 Britain after realizing the blogger was away.

Khan pleaded not guilty at trial and admitted sending the messages and traveling to Rotterdam.

But he claimed he was only looking for the money and 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.

In 2017, he said he was held captive for weeks in Pakistan along with four other activists and tortured.

The Pakistani army has denied any involvement.

Goraya told AFP on Friday that he and his family had to move immediately after being informed of a threat to his life.

“You have to change everything, start your life over. You are totally surrounded by strangers, for safety,” he said.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)