LONDON: A British Pakistani man who was charged earlier this year with the conspiracy to murder exiled Pakistani blogger Ahmad Waqas Goraya entered a not guilty plea at the Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court on Friday.
The trial date for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) versus Muhammad Gohir Khan has been set for Jan 11, 2022 with the trial expected to last two weeks.
Gohir Khan, born on Feb 16, 1990, was charged on June 28 with one count of conspiracy to murder 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,” a CPS statement at the time said.
Defendant Gohir Khan has entered a not guilty plea
Khan appeared at the Old Bailey in June for the indictment, and was arraigned to appear at the crown court on Friday.
Informed sources told Dawn that Khan was charged after an investigation was launched by the Met Police’s Counter Terrorism Command unit.
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.
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.
Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2021