PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A Pakistani court on Wednesday acquitted the parents of an exiled female human rights activist, a defense lawyer said, three years after the couple was arrested on charges of terror financing and sedition.
The 2019 arrests of Gulalai Ismail’s parents, Mohammad and Uzlifat Ismail, in the northwestern city of Peshawar, had drawn widespread condemnation. The U.S. State Department also expressed concern over the arrests.
On Wednesday, an anti-terrorism court acquitted the couple, saying the prosecution failed to prove the charges, according to the couple’s lawyer, Shabbir Hussain Gigyan.
Mohammad Ismail is a teacher and a social activist. His daughter fled to the U.S. in 2019 and she sought asylum there to avoid harassment by Pakistani security agencies over her investigations into alleged human rights abuses by soldiers.
In recent years, Pakistani activists and journalists have increasingly come under attack by the government and the security establishment, restricting the space for criticism and dissent. The criticism of the military can result in threats, intimidation, sedition charges and in some cases, being arrested with no warning.