A Pakistani court has ordered the release of a Christian couple who had been sentenced to death for blasphemy.
Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar were jailed in 2013 for allegedly sending a text message insulting the prophet Muhammad – even though both are illiterate.
In April, the European parliament cited their case when it passed a motion condemning Pakistan for failing to protect religious minorities.
Last week, however, the Lahore Supreme Court acquitted the married couple on appeal.
Their lawyer, Saif ul-Malook, welcomed the ruling and said his clients are among the most helpless people in Pakistani society.
Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Pakistan, where anyone deemed to have insulted Islam can face the death penalty and the whiff of even unproven allegations can lead to mob lynchings and vigilante murders.
Rights campaigners say accusations are often made to settle personal disputes.
Amnesty International welcomed the decision saying the couple should neither have been convicted nor faced a death sentence in the first place.
“‘Blasphemy’ cases are often premised on flimsy evidence in environments that make fair trials impossible, underscoring the significance of this verdict. The authorities must now immediately provide Shafqat, Shagufta, their family and their lawyer Saiful ul-Malook with adequate security,” said a spokesperson.