A hitman was offered £100,000 by Pakistani intelligence services to kill a dissident blogger who criticised the army, a court has heard.
Muhammad Gohir Khan, 31, a supermarket worker, is alleged to have travelled to the Netherlands and bought a knife in a failed plot to murder blogger Ahmad Waqas Goraya.
Mr Gorya, who had left Pakistan in 2010, frequently called the country a “terrorist state” and mocked the military in online posts.
In December 2018, he was told he was on a “kill list” by the FBI and believes he received threats “led and orchestrated” by the Pakistani ISI intelligence agency, Kingston Crown Court heard.
Khan was heavily in debt, owing creditors more than £200,000, and was “enthusiastic” about carrying out the killing to earn money, the court was told.
Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC said: “There will be no dispute in this case but that there was a plot to kill Mr Goraya. Someone wanted him to be killed, and it may well be that the motive for killing him was linked to his political activism.
“Those who wanted Mr Goraya dead were prepared to pay money to ensure that happened.”
Ms Morgan said Khan accepts he “gave the appearance” of being part of the plot between February and June last year but claims he “intended to get his cash and not go through with the killing”.
Khan, who lived with his parents, wife and six children in Forest Gate, east London, denies conspiracy to murder.
The alleged plotters referred to targets as “fish” in messages as they finalised the deal, with Khan to receive a £5,000 advance for “operational expenses”, the court was told.
In one message to a contact known as “Mudz” or “Zed”, Khan said: “I need to arrange fishing rods and accessories,” in what the prosecutor said was a reference to sourcing a weapon.
The trial is ongoing.