Pakistani doctor who helped CIA in Osama raid sentenced to jail

Friday, May 25, 2012
Peshawar: The Pakistani doctor who helped the American intelligence agency CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) in its mission to track down Osama bin Laden has been convicted of high treason in his home country and sentenced to 33 years in prison plus a fine.

Shakil Afridi, the 48-year-old doctor was accused of running a fake vaccination campaign in collecting DNA samples reportedly used by US intelligence officers to track bin Laden to Abbottabad, US Special Forces (Navy SEALs) killed bin Laden during a covert raid in the garrison city last May.

Afridi's conviction comes at a time when the US is aggravated by Pakistan's refusal to reopen NATO supply routes to Afghanistan. The supply routes were closed six months ago in retaliation for American air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Afridi was detained sometime after the May 2, 2011, raid, but the start of his trial was never publicised.

Local officials briefed 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 pointed out that under the tribal system, Afridi was not given the right to defend himself, present evidence, or have access to a lawyer.

Interestingly, senior US officials have called for Afridi to be released, arguing that his work served Pakistani and American interests. But many Pakistani officials, especially those working for the country's powerful spy agency, do not see it that way.

"He was working for a foreign spy agency. We are looking after our national interests," said a Pakistani intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with the agency's policy.

Pakistan is considered as a nation that was heading towards negotiating a peace deal with the Afghan Taliban and their allies given the country's historical ties with the militants.

The Pakistani government is also eager to repair relations with the US, partly to receive over a billion dollars in American aid it needs to fill out its budget as it looks ahead to national elections scheduled for 2013. But patching up ties is politically sensitive in a country where anti-American sentiment is on its extreme extent. 
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