22:31 GMT +323 May 2019
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    Osama bin Laden

    Pakistan Won’t Release Doctor Who Helped Hunt Down Bin Laden

    © AP Photo / Mazhar Ali Khan
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    On Tuesday, the Pakistani Minister for Law and Justice revealed that a doctor suspected of aiding the US in their secret raid to assassinate Osama Bin Laden will not be freed. Dr. Shakil Afridi was arrested in May 2011, soon after the CIA killed the Al-Qaeda leader.

    Afridi is accused of collecting DNA samples from Bin Laden, through a fake vaccination campaign, and turning them over to the CIA to confirm the militant’s identity.

    The doctor denies maintaining ties with jihadist groups, but Pakistani authorities arrested him in the town of Abbottabad. Considered a hero in Washington, some Pakistanis reportedly regard Afridi as a traitor. 

    In 2012 Afridi was sentenced to 33 years in jail for being connected to the militant group Lashkar-e-Islam, a decision that would be overturned a year later, although he remains incarcerated. He was later charged with murder for the 2005 death of one of his patients and is awaiting trial in jail.

    Pakistani Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid told the upper house of the Pakistani parliament, "The law is taking its course and Afridi is having full opportunity of a fair trial…Afridi worked against the law and our national interest, and the Pakistan government has repeatedly been telling the United States that under our law he committed a crime and was facing the law," according to the Daily Times.

    Though lauded for his assistance to the US, in early May 2016 Afridi’s lawyer Qamar Nadeem told AFP that pressure from Washington would be a great help, "but so far they have not shown their support." 

    Islamabad has denied claims that Pakistan’s intelligence services or military played any part in concealing the notorious terrorist, and describes Bin Laden’s time in Abbottabad as a lapse in security.

    Incoming US President Donald Trump, while on the campaign trail, upset Pakistan’s foreign ministry by declaring that he could have Afridi freed "in two minutes."

    "I think I would get him out in two minutes. I would tell them let him out and I'm sure they would let him out. Because we give a lot of aid to Pakistan," he said in an interview with Fox News.

    Pakistani interior minister Chuadry Nisar Ali Khan called Trump’s comments "ignorant," reminding the candidate that "Pakistan is not a colony of the United States of America. He should learn to treat sovereign nations with respect." Khan added, "The peanuts the US has given us in return should not be used to threaten or browbeat us into following Trump’s misguided vision of foreign policy."

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    Tags:
    incarceration, Terrorism, Shakil Afridi, Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan
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