Torture may have led to Pearl murder suspect's death

Saud Memon was reportedly a shell of a man after being detained by the CIA and Pakistani authorities.

By Alex Koppelman
November 13, 2007 2:50AM (UTC)
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The Wall Street Journal looks today on the latest chapter in the sad story of the murder of its reporter Daniel Pearl: The death of suspect Saud Memon, the man who owned the shed where Pearl was killed and buried. Memon died earlier this year, just weeks after he had been left -- injured and weighing less than 80 pounds, according to the Journal -- at his home in Pakistan. He had been, the Journal says, taken from hiding in South Africa and then detained by the CIA, which interrogated him about his role as an alleged financier of al-Qaida, including what U.S. officials say was his part in helping the group with its work trying to produce anthrax. After that, he was transferred to Pakistani custody.

Pakistani intelligence has been accused of torturing Memon, but ill treatment of the alleged terror supporter may have happened before he fell under their control. The Journal cites a Pakistani police official who says that "Memon was already in poor condition when the U.S. authorities delivered him to Pakistan," as well as one Pakistani investigator connected to the Pearl case who says that when Memon returned to Pakistan he had "lost all his senses" and looked like "a skeleton." And whatever happened to Memon while he was in Pakistani custody was apparently no picnic either -- a human rights worker quoted by the Journal says other prisoners have told her that Memon was tortured quite severely. The activist, Amina Masood, said that "I saw him with my own eyes. His body looked like a 16-year-old boy's ... He couldn't recognize his wife, children."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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