Pakistani cleric Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, was released from house arrest at midnight Thursday.
The Lahore High Court’s justice review body rejected a government request to renew his detention for another 90 days Wednesday. He had been on house arrest since January in the eastern city of Lahore.
“When the government was not able to present any evidence to justify [Saeed’s] continued detention, the court ordered his release when his current detention order expires” on Thursday, said his spokesman, Nadeem Awan, to Al Jazeera.
Earlier, four of Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa colleagues — Abdullah Ubaid, Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Niaz — were released when a similar review board deemed the government’s evidence for their continued detention to be insufficient.
Police guards were removed from his residence, where supporters celebrated the end of his house arrest.
“Although there are only few days left in this year but we will continue our struggle in the next year and mobilize people and take forward our movement to free Kashmir,” Saeed said to the supporters. “God willing with the support of people we will take Kashmir to its destiny.”
The United Nations has designated him as a “terrorist” and United States has placed a $10 million bounty on him.
Saeed has denied any link to the gun and bomb attacks in Mumbai that killed at least 160 people.
Last month, authorities withdrew terrorism charges against Saeed but kept him under house arrest.
India has criticized Pakistan for not convicting him even though the militant group he founded led the Mumbai attacks.
Saeed founded the Pakistani-based Lashkar-e-Taiba in the 1990s and when it was banned, Jamaat-ud-Dawa was revived in 2002.
Saeed said JuD is a Islamic welfare organisation.
He has been detained previously.
In 2001, he was held for three months when LeT was accused of carrying out the attack on the Indian parliament.
In 2006, the Pakistani government held him for several months for activities “detrimental” to its relations with other governments.
By Allen Cone