The high profile abduction drew international attention, amid growing concern over the threat posed by radical Islamic terrorism.
Assailants later filmed Pearl’s beheading and sent it to United States officials. It was among the first propaganda videos targeting hostages created by extremists, and helped to inspire other terror groups to film horrific and egregious acts of violence.
Four men were arrested in 2002, and convicted of the kidnap and murder of Pearl. One, British national Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, was given the death penalty.
According to a statement from lawyer Faisal Siddique Said, the family was “in complete shock” at the majority decision, which they described as a “complete travesty of justice” which would endanger journalists and the people of Pakistan.
The statement urged the US government “to take all necessary actions under the law to correct this injustice” and added that the family hoped the Pakistani authorities would also act.