A Pakistani blogger critical of his country’s authorities has accused them of being behind the planned assassination of which he was the target, for which a 31-year-old Briton was found guilty in London on Friday.
The sentence of the accused will be pronounced on March 11 by the court of Kingston Upon Thames (south-west of London).
Originally from east London, Muhammed Gohir Khan was arrested and charged in June 2021 with conspiracy between February 16 and June 24 to assassinate Ahmad Waqass Goraya, a blogger critical of the Pakistani authorities.
Ahmad Waqass Goraya told AFP that he had “mixed feelings” after the jury’s verdict: he said he was “happy that there is at least one new precedent: if you chase someone in exile, you will be for follow-up “.
“But I hope that the real people who sent these guys will also be prosecuted one day,” he added.
Highlighting the amount of the promised reward, as well as the fact that his photo and his address in the Netherlands, however kept secret, had been sent, he said he was “sure that it is the Pakistani state”. “It’s the intelligence agencies”, “the army”, he accused.
The activist said he was determined to pursue his second life and continue to express himself, despite the threats that forced him to suddenly move: “I am not discouraged”.
Prosecutor Alison Morgan claimed during the hearings that the accused had been offered 100,000 pounds (120,000 euros) to kill the blogger.
He had gone in June 2021 to Rotterdam (Dutch city, located in the province of South Holland), where his target lives, to buy a knife and try to locate him, she added, surveillance images and transcripts of exchanges on encrypted messaging Signal in support.
But Mr. Goraya was not at home and Mr. Khan had turned back. He had been arrested on his return to London from the Netherlands.
Mr. Khan had pleaded not guilty. He said he wanted to get the money because he was in debt of 200,000 pounds (240,000 euros) and could not pay his creditors with his job as a delivery boy for a supermarket, but he had never had the intention to act.
Muhammed Gohir Khan was hired by “other people who appeared to be based in Pakistan,” the prosecutor said.
In 2018, Mr. Goraya had “received information from the FBI that he was on a list of people to be killed”, she added. “Some threats he received came from internet trolls, but others he said were directed and orchestrated by the ISI,” the Pakistani intelligence agency.
At the end of January 2017, the activist was released after several weeks of arbitrary detention in Pakistan and hastened to return to the Netherlands where he lives with his wife and two children.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) considered that this verdict “could serve as a benchmark judgment” and constitutes “a rare step towards criminal responsibility for transnational crimes against journalists”.
“We call on the competent authorities to continue their investigations to identify the intermediary and any other person involved in this horrible plot to ensure that justice is carried out,” RSF London director Rebecca told AFP. vincent.
In a statement issued after the verdict, the London police said that the investigation to find this intermediary “is continuing” and urged anyone with information about him to come forward.
At least four other activists disappeared during the same period, in circumstances suggesting the involvement of state services, which have a long history of enforced disappearances, according to Human Rights Watch, opponents and Pakistani activists.
The authorities had denied any involvement in the disappearances.