U.S. Offered Escape to Cooperative Pakistani Doctor, Was Rejected

by Patrick Brennan

The story of a Pakistani doctor who assisted the CIA in the search for Osama bin Laden, and has now been sentenced to 33 years in prison, has just gotten a bit more complicated. The Times reports:

Tribal court documents show that the Pakistani doctor who was sentenced to 33 years in prison after helping the Central Intelligence Agency track down Osama bin Laden had not been charged with treason, as some Pakistani officials had initially reported.

The doctor, Shakil Afridi, who was tried under Pakistan’s opaque tribal justice system, was instead convicted of colluding with a local Islamist warlord, to whom he was accused of donating more than $20,000. . . .

But Pakistani analysts say that despite the harsh sentence, the fact that he was convicted under tribal law could ultimately work in Dr. Afridi’s favor, leaving more room for an early release — or perhaps even an exchange deal with the United States, said Asad Durrani, a former head of the main Pakistani military intelligence agency.

“In a context like this, between Pakistan and the U.S., people tend to be bargained for and exchanged,” Mr. Durrani said.

Further, Reuters reported yesterday that the doctor, for unclear reasons, rejected an offer by U.S. officials to resettle him and his family outside of Pakistan, in the wake of the bin Laden raid.