Pakistani Dr. Afridi Faces Trial Over bin Laden Raid
A Pakistani commission has ruled that Shakil Afridi, the doctor who helped the United States track down Osama bin Laden, should be put on trial for his role in the affair — even though it concedes he has already been jailed on “trumped-up charges.”
As the Insider Report disclosed most recently in May, Afridi was arrested weeks after the U.S. raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan, where al-Qaida leader bin Laden was living in a compound. American officials later said Afridi had helped in the hunt for the terrorist chief by conducting a vaccination campaign in Abbottabad to obtain DNA evidence from the compound confirming that bin Laden was hiding there.
He was accused of being a “national criminal” who should be tried for high treason.
In May 2012, a court in the tribal area near the Afghan border sentenced Afridi to 33 years in prison after convicting him of providing assistance to an obscure military group in the area.
The Pakistani commission of inquiry, criticizing that charge as “trumped-up,” said it had “completely undermined the credibility of the country and its judicial process,” according to a leaked version of the commission’s report obtained by Al Jazeera.
Afridi is one of more than 200 witnesses whose testimony appears in the report, and the commission said he should be tried to determine “the extent and nature of his involvement” in the Abbottabad raid.
If he is tried and convicted, he could face further punishment.
Afridi testified that he was unaware his vaccination campaign was a front for the CIA.
The campaign ended on April 23, 2011, nine days before the raid, and Afridi was arrested three weeks later.
The report noted: “Afridi told the commission that had he been guilty, he would have disappeared immediately before or after the raid.”
Two Republican lawmakers, Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, have urged Congress to make Afridi’s release a condition for continuing U.S. aid.
“The U.S. ambassador should be recalled and legislation should be passed to withhold foreign aid to Pakistan as long as they are doing the bidding of terrorists and persecuting the likes of Dr. Afridi,” Rohrabacher said.
His statement was released after news broke that Afridi was on a hunger strike in jail to protest his harsh treatment, the Insider Report also disclosed.
Afridi told Fox News he was brutally tortured by Pakistani intelligence agents. He also said the Pakistanis told him “the Americans are our worst enemies, worse than the Indians,” and that Pakistan’s claims of cooperation with America are a sham to “extract” billions in U.S. aid.
The Obama administration requested $1.4 billion in aid to Pakistan in its fiscal 2014 State Department budget proposal.