Court cuts jail term of Pakistan doctor who helped find bin Laden

PESHAWAR, Pakistan Sat Mar 15, 2014 7:19am EDT

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - A court in Pakistan on Saturday reduced by 10 years the jail term handed down to a Pakistani doctor who helped the United States track down al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in a blow to his supporters who have been fighting for his release.

Shakil Afridi, hailed as a hero by U.S. officials, was arrested after U.S. soldiers killed bin Laden in May 2011 in a raid in a northern Pakistani town that outraged Pakistan and plunged relations between the strategic partners to a new low.

Pakistan arrested Afridi and sentenced him to 33 years in jail for being a member of a militant group, a charge he denies.

On Saturday, a court in the city of Peshawar reduced his sentence to 23 years following repeated calls by the United States and his legal team for his release.

"We will receive a complete court order on Monday and will then challenge it at the FATA Tribunal," said Afridi's lawyer, Qamar Nadeem, referring to a higher tribal court.

Afridi has become a new irritant in the complex ties between Washington and Islamabad that have been deteriorating over past years despite Pakistan's pivotal role to U.S. interests in Afghanistan, counter-terrorism and nuclear security.

The day after Afridi was sentenced, the U.S. Senate expressed its anger by voting to dock Islamabad $33 million in aid - $1 million for every year of the term.

Pakistan has accused the doctor of running a fake vaccination campaign in which he collected DNA samples to help the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency track down bin Laden.

(Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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Comments (4)
regan4000 wrote:
It’s nice to see that the US actually cares about this guy. He did help them out astronomically.

Mar 15, 2014 8:29am EDT  --  Report as abuse
glovergirl wrote:
I cannot believe that the USA could not have gotten him and his family out of harms way. My faith in the power, compassion and intelligence of the foreign policies of the Empire is wavering. I would hate to be a POV at this point.

Mar 15, 2014 8:42am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Swisswatch wrote:
I’m willing to bet money that there were those high in the government of Pakistan that knew where bin Laden was.

And we should have moved that doctor and his family out immediately after the successful attack on bin Laden.

Mar 15, 2014 12:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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