Pakistani Doctor Jailed for Helping CIA in Bin Laden Hunt
May 23, 2012
Government officials say the Pakistani doctor who helped the United
States track down Osama bin Laden has been sentenced to 33 years in
prison for treason.
Shakeel Afridi was accused of running a fake vaccination campaign to
help the CIA obtain DNA samples of the al-Qaida leader and members of
his family to confirm his presence at a compound in the Pakistani city
of Abbottabad. U.S. special forces killed bin Laden during a covert raid
in the garrison city last May.
Local officials said Wednesday that a tribal court in Pakistan's
northwest Khyber district convicted Afridi of treason. Aside from jail
time, the doctor must also pay a $3,500 fine.
Officials say that under the tribal system, Afridi was not given the
right to defend himself, present evidence, or have access to a lawyer.
Earlier this year, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Afridi had
been very helpful in tracking down bin Laden and called on Pakistani
authorities to release him, calling his arrest a "real mistake."
In March, a ranking member of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee,
Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, expressed concern about
Afridi's arrest during an interview with VOA's Urdu Service.
Congressman Ruppersberger said Afridi could have left Pakistan before
being arrested, but chose to stay because he was patriotic.
The U.S. lawmaker said that from what he knew, Afridi felt "that he was
helping his country in dealing with terrorism - he didn't know who was
in the area, he was a doctor."
Asked Wednesday about Afridi's sentencing, Pentagon spokesman George
Little told reporters: "Without commenting on specific individuals, let
me make the following point very clear: anyone who supported the United
States in finding Osama bin Laden was not working against Pakistan. They
were working against al-Qaida."
Afridi's conviction comes at a time of tense relations between the
United States and Pakistan, which are in talks to reopen NATO supply
lines to troops in Afghanistan that Pakistan shut down last November
after U.S. airstrikes mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani troops.
Pakistan has demanded an apology for the cross-border attack and an end
U.S. drone strikes on Pakistani soil. The U.S. says the strikes
targeting militants are crucial to defeating al-Qaida and the Taliban.
Also Wednesday, Pakistani intelligence officials said a U.S. missile
strike killed four suspected militants Pakistan's North Waziristan
The officials say two missiles hit a compound Wednesday near Miran Shah,
near the Afghan border.
U.S. Senate subcommittee voted Tuesday to cut proposed aid to Pakistan
by more than half, and threatened to withhold even more money unless the
NATO supply routes are reopened.
The aid is part of President Barack Obama's budget proposal for next
The panel voted $1 billion in aid to Pakistan - a 58 percent cut in the
level proposed by Mr. Obama. The amount includes $50 million for
counterinsurgency that is contingent on the NATO supply line being
Panel leaders said they do not want to invest in an uncooperative
The spending plan is far from final. The full Senate committee, both
houses of Congress and Mr. Obama must approve the budget.
The U.S. withdrew as much as $3 billion of promised military aid as
relations with Pakistan deteriorated following the November airstrikes.