Musharraf Says Pakistan Still Undecided on Extraditing Suspect in Reporter's Killing

Pakistan will decide later whether to hand over the chief suspect in the kidnap-slaying of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl to the United States, Pakistan's president said Thursday.

Pervez Musharraf also said Pearl, whose death was confirmed last month, had been "over inquisitive" and got "over-involved" in pursuing his story.

Pearl, South Asia bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, was kidnapped Jan. 23 while researching links between Pakistani extremists and Richard C. Reid, who was arrested in December on a Paris-Miami flight he allegedly boarded with explosives in his sneakers.

A videotape received Feb. 22 by U.S. diplomats in Karachi showed Pearl dead. His body has not been found.

The chief suspect in the kidnap-slaying, British-born Islamic militant Ahmed Omar Saaed Sheikh, was arrested last month before the video tape was sent. He is expected to stand trial this month.

U.S. officials have expressed interest in prosecuting Saeed, although he has not been indicted in the United States for the Pearl killing.

There is no extradition treaty between the United States and Pakistan but the two governments are said to be looking for legal ways to transfer Saeed to U.S. custody.

"We have our laws. We are investigating. We will see the extradition aspect," Musharraf said at a conference of regional information ministers. "We will decide later whether he will be tried in Pakistan or handed over to the United States."

On Tuesday, Musharraf's spokesman, Maj. Gen. Rashid Quereshi, said the United States had already been informed that Saeed would be tried here first. However, Quereshi did not rule out handing Saeed over later.

Musharraf said the Pearl case shows the dangers facing journalists, although he did not directly refer to the correspondent's pursuit of Reid's alleged links to extremists in Pakistan.

"He was over inquisitive," Musharraf said of Pearl, and "got over involved."

"There is danger in this profession," he said. "We have to be careful."