LONDON: A 31-year-old British-Pakistani man has been charged with conspiring to murder a Pakistani blogger who lives in the Netherlands in self-exile.
A statement from the Crown Prosecution Service said that Muhammad Gohir Khan, born on Feb 16, 1990, was charged on June 28 with one count of conspiracy to murder Ahmad Waqas Goraya.
“The exact charge is that between the 16th day of February 2021 and the 24th day of June 2021 [Khan] conspired together with persons unknown to murder Ahmad Waqas Goraya, contrary to section 1 (1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977,” the statement said. Khan will appear at the Old Bailey on Monday for the next hearing of the case.
Informed sources told Dawn that Khan was charged after an investigation was launched by the Met Police’s Counter Terrorism Command unit. He appeared at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on June 29.
Suspect travelled from London to Amsterdam and visited the area where Goraya lived
Goraya is an activist and blogger who left Pakistan after he and five other bloggers were abducted and later released in Islamabad in 2017. The abductions were widely criticised by rights groups, opposition lawmakers and activists who called on the government to end enforced disappearances.
Goraya moved to the Netherlands later that year, saying he feared for his life and safety.
In February 2020, Goraya was attacked and threatened outside his home in Rotterdam, an incident that was condemned by Reporters Without Borders who called on the Dutch authorities to protect the blogger.
Speaking to Dawn, Goraya said the arrest was not connected to the 2020 attack.
He said it was linked to an incident which took place on Feb 12, 2021, when the Dutch police approached him and informed him that his life was in danger. He was shifted from his home to a secure place.
“Someone had tweeted a picture of the inside of my house,” Goraya said. “I had shown that photo to the police which prompted an investigation.”
In the first week of July, Goraya said British police visited him in the Netherlands to record his statement.
Gohir Khan reportedly travelled from London to Amsterdam on Feb 2 this year.
He stayed there for three days, hired a car and visited the locality where Goraya lived.
The arrest of Gohir Khan in the UK sparked concerns about the safety of activists and journalists both inside and outside Pakistan.
Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2021