Pakistan says won’t release doctor who helped CIA find Osama

Islamabad: Pakistan’s government has said it would not hand over to the US or release the doctor who helped the CIA hunt down Osama bin Laden, a newspaper here reported.

Justice Minister Zahid Hamid informed the Senate on Tuesday that Dr Shakil Afridi was considered a hero in the US for his help in locating Bin Laden, but in Pakistan he was regarded as a traitor, reported the Daily Times.

The minister said Afridi helped the US in tracing Bin Laden under the cover of a fake polio campaign, which delivered a crippling blow to Pakistan’s efforts in eradicating polio from the country.

“He severely harmed the polio vaccination campaign, and 50 vaccinators were thereafter being suspected of being foreign intelligence agents,” the minister said.

Hamid said Afridi broke the law and worked against national interest and has been brought to justice for his crime.

Afridi was arrested shortly after the Al Qaeda leader was killed in an operation by US Special Forces on May 2, 2011, at his residence compound in Abbottabad city.

A year later, Afridi received a 33-year prison sentence for links to terrorist groups, although it was subsequently reduced to 23 years in 2014.

The doctor has appealed the sentence and is still awaiting a court hearing.

The sentence was severely criticised within and outside the country, and the United States has termed it unjust and unnecessary.