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May 24, 2012 7:00 am

Pakistan Jails Doctor for Helping U.S. Find Bin Laden

avatar by Lakkana Nanayakkara

Osama bin Laden's former hideout in Pakistan. Photo: wiki commons.

Senior U.S. officials including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have called for the release of Shakil Afridi, saying his work served both Pakistani and American interests.  The Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find Osama Bin Laden, has been sentenced to 33 years in prison in Pakistan after being charged with treason for running a fake vaccination program to gather information on Bin Laden’s location.

Former Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed on May 2, 2011, during a raid by U.S. Navy SEAL commandos on his compound in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad.

It is unknown if Afridi managed to obtain a DNA sample from one of the children living in the Abbottabad compound, so that DNA tests could determine whether or not they were relatives of Bin Laden.

Afridi could be sentenced to an additional three years in prison if he does not pay a fine of $3,500. Reuters reported that seventeen health workers who worked with Afridi on the vaccination drive were fired in March 2012 for acting “against the national interest”.

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Republican Congressman Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, criticized the Obama administration for disclosing the doctor’s identity.

In January 2012, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Afridi and his team had provided intelligence that led to finding bin Laden, describing him as “very helpful” and criticized Pakistan for arresting him.  U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher introduced legislation in February 2012 calling for Afridi to be granted American citizenship and called Pakistan’s actions “shameful and unforgivable”.

In June 2011, Pakistani army officials said they arrested some individuals for helping U.S. forces refuel their helicopters during the raid and for firing flares to guide the helicopters towards the compound.

Despite detaining people who have helped the United States carry out the Bin Laden raid, Pakistan has so far not charged or arrested anyone for sheltering Osama bin Laden for a decade.

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