Jail Sentence Overturned for Pakistani Doctor Who Helped Find Bin Laden

by Andrew Johnson

Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who was jailed for his role in helping the United States locate Osama bin Laden, will get a retrial after one of the country’s judicial officials determined Afridi was wrongly sentenced. According to the decision, a lower-level official exceeded his authority when he sentenced Afridi to 33 years in prison.

“The assistant political agent played the role of a magistrate for which he was not authorized,” the official said.

Afridi was involved in helping the CIA to confirm that bin Laden was in the city of Abbottabad by obtaining DNA samples under the pretext of a vaccination project. He was arrested on the Pakistani border as he tried to flee the country days after the raid on bin Laden’s compound. He was later charged with and sentenced for being a member of Lashkar-e-Islam, a militant group (Afridi denied being a member, and the group said it had no ties with him as well).

Afridi’s imprisonment caused some friction between Pakistan and the U.S., with lawmakers accusing the country of unjustly jailing the doctor and raising questions about the Pakistani government’s knowledge of bin Laden’s location. Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R., Calif.) called on President Obama to intervene to release Afridi, and a Senate appropriations committee voted to withhold $33 million in foreign aid to Pakistan, $1 million for every year of his sentence.

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