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Pakistani Doctor accused of helping CIA track down Bin Laden sentenced to 33 yrs in Prison

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Pakistani Doctor accused of helping CIA track down Bin Laden sentenced to 33 yrs in Prison

Post  Panda on Wed 23 May - 18:22

Pakistani doctor accused of helping U.S. gets 33 years in prisonFrom Reza Sayah, CNN
May 23, 2012 -- Updated 1636 GMT (0036 HKT)
Shakeel Afridi was accused of helping the CIA track down Osama bin Laden.STORY HIGHLIGHTS
NEW: Hillary Clinton intervened on Shakeel Afridi's behalf, an official says
Afridi was accused of helping collect DNA from Osama bin Laden's compound
He was sentenced by a tribal court
A legal analyst calls the sentence a sham
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- A Pakistani doctor accused of helping the CIA track down Osama bin Laden was sentenced Wednesday to 33 years in prison for treason, officials told CNN.

Shakeel Afridi was also fined $3,500 for spying for the United States, said Nasir Khan, a Khyber Agency official, and Fazal Mehmood, an official from the tribal court that handed down the sentence.

The court heard the case against Afridi for two months. The doctor was not afforded a chance to defend himself, which is in accordance with the laws of the tribal justice system, the two officials said.

Afridi was present at the sentencing and was sent to the central jail in nearby Peshawar.

Panetta: Doctor should be released

Doctor in bin Laden raid faces treason

Analyzing bin Laden's secret letters

Bin Laden's plan to kill Obama Afridi helped the CIA use a vaccination campaign in an attempt to collect DNA samples from residents of bin Laden's compound in the city of Abbottabad to verify the al Qaeda leader's presence there.

Bin Laden was killed in the subsequent U.S. raid on the compound in May of last year.

Pakistan fires doctor who helped CIA to hunt bin Laden

At least one legal analyst said Afridi's sentence was a sham.

Islamabad-based lawyer Shahzad Akbar said the punishment was handed down by a tribal court in Khyber even though the alleged offense occurred in Abbottabad, which raises questions about the legitimacy of the proceedings.

"This judgment won't last," Akbar told CNN. "If this punishment is challenged by Dr. Afridi's family in the Superior Court of Pakistan, there is a good possibility that the sentence will be turned around."

Human rights groups have often accused tribal courts of violating the fair trial process guaranteed under Pakistan's constitution.

Akbar said the Afridi ruling could be a move by the government to save face without making a spectacle out of a sensitive situation.

In a federal court, the government would have had to produce evidence, and Afridi would have the right to defend himself.

"There is ample case law that says this process is cheating against the laws and constitution of Pakistan," Akbar said.

Afridi can appeal the sentence, said Tariq Hayat Khan, a senior official in the tribal region.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton intervened on behalf of Afridi when he was first arrested, a senior U.S. official told CNN. Clinton argued that Afridi should be released and "will keep doing so," the official said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has acknowledged Afridi's role in bin Laden's discovery and has also said he ought to be released.

Bergen: Bin Laden 'paranoid' "This was an individual who in fact helped provide intelligence that was very helpful with regards to this operation," Panetta told CBS in January. "And he was not in any way treasonous towards Pakistan."

Afridi was charged under the Frontier Crimes Regulation, British-era laws that govern Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal region and do not carry the death penalty.

In October, a Pakistani commission recommended treason charges be filed against Afridi. A federal investigation is ongoing, according to a government official close to the investigation who is not authorized to speak to the media.

The official was not clear on how Wednesday's sentencing would affect the federal case.

CNN's Elise Labott contributed to this report.
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Re: Pakistani Doctor accused of helping CIA track down Bin Laden sentenced to 33 yrs in Prison

Post  Panda on Fri 25 May - 9:03

25 May 2012 Last updated at 00:04 Share this pageEmail Print Share this page

726ShareFacebookTwitter.US cuts Pakistan aid over jailing of 'Bin Laden doctor' Shakil Afridi could end up spending 33 years in prison Continue reading the main story
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At al-Qaeda's helm?

A US Senate panel has cut $33m (£21m) in aid to Pakistan in response to the jailing of a Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find Osama Bin Laden.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has said it will cut US aid by $1m for each year of Shakil Afridi's sentence.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said his term was "unjust and unwarranted".

Dr Afridi was tried for treason under a tribal justice system for running a fake vaccination programme to gather information for US intelligence.

Bin Laden was killed by US forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011.

The move from the Senate panel follows earlier cuts to the White House's budget request for Pakistan. The cuts would be part of a bill that would send $1bn in aid to Pakistan in the next financial year.

"We need Pakistan, Pakistan needs us, but we don't need Pakistan double-dealing and not seeing the justice in bringing Osama Bin Laden to an end," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, calling Pakistan "a schizophrenic ally".

Meanwhile Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said: "It's Alice in Wonderland at best. If this is co-operation, I'd hate like hell to see opposition."

Hillary Clinton: ''We regret both the fact that he was convicted and the severity of his sentence''
Correspondents say the cuts reflect mounting frustration in Congress over Pakistan's role in fighting terrorism on its soil.

Absent from court

Meanwhile, Mrs Clinton spoke out against Dr Afridi's sentence.

"The United States does not believe there is any basis for holding Dr [Shakil] Afridi. We regret the fact that he was convicted and the severity of his sentence," Mrs Clinton told reporters on Thursday.

She added that she would continue to pursue the issue with the authorities in Pakistan.

The killing triggered a rift between the US and Pakistan, whose government was seriously embarrassed as it emerged Bin Laden had been living in Pakistan.

Islamabad felt the covert US operation was a violation of its sovereignty.

Continue reading the main story

M Ilyas Khan

BBC News, Islamabad

The question being asked is, if Dr Afridi really thought he had brought harm to the Pakistani security establishment, why didn't he leave the country during the 20 days that the Pakistanis took to discover him?

A brief insight into what he did or did not know is provided by a retired brigadier of the Pakistani army, Shaukat Qadir, who was tasked with conducting an investigation into the affair.

Quoting Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) officials privy to Dr Afridi's interrogation, Brig Qadir suggests he probably did not know he was helping the Americans track down Bin Laden.

Analysts say the Pakistani establishment has done this not only to defy the Americans but also to send a message to all Pakistani contacts of American diplomatic missions to desist from repeating Dr Afridi's "mistake".

Was 'Bin Laden doctor' a pawn?
Profile: Shakil Afridi

Shortly after the raid on Bin Laden's house, Dr Afridi was arrested for conspiring against the state of Pakistan.

Pakistan has insisted that any country would have done the same if it found one of its citizens working for a foreign spy agency.

"I think as far as the case of Mr Afridi is concerned, it was in accordance with Pakistani laws and by the Pakistani courts, and we need to respect each other's legal processes," its foreign ministry spokesman Moazzam Khan told reporters on Thursday.

Dr Afridi was found guilty in Khyber district, and fined $3,500. If he does not pay the fine his prison sentence will be extended by a further three years.

Dr Afridi, who is now being held in jail in Peshawar, was not present in court so was unable to give his side of the story.

In June, Pakistani army officials told the BBC that some suspects were arrested for helping the Americans refuel their helicopters during the raid. Others were detained because they were suspected of firing flares to guide the helicopters towards the compound.

It is not clear if Dr Afridi knew who the target of the investigation was when the CIA recruited him, or what DNA he managed to collect in the fake hepatitis B vaccination programme.

It is thought the idea was to obtain a blood 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.

The issues of drone strikes and Pakistan's refusal to re-open Nato supply routes to Afghanistan have also recently severely strained the two allies' relationship.

Pakistan's parliament has called for an end to the use of drones, and says they are an attack on its sovereignty. Drone strikes in the past two days have killed 12 people in the North Waziristan tribal area, security officials said.

US special forces caught up with Bin Laden in a quiet Pakistani town last year
The two countries also failed to reach agreement at the Nato summit in Chicago over the supply routes that were closed after a US air strike in 2011 killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

Islamabad is demanding more than $5,000 (£3,200) per lorry in transit fees, up from its previous rate of $250, to let supplies flow again. US officials have said they will not pay that much.
? What do you think about Shakil Afridi's sentence and the US reaction to it? You can send us your views using the form below.

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