Doctor who helped capture Osama bin laden to be declared an American hero

Doctor who helped capture Osama bin laden to be declared an American hero

File photo of the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad

Washington:  A Congressional resolution has been introduced in the US House of Representatives to recognise a Pakistani doctor, who helped CIA trace Osama bin Laden, as an American hero.

Dr Shakil Afridi was arrested by Pakistan government three weeks after Laden was killed in the US raid for accessing the al Qaeda leader's compound and helping the US identify who was hiding in Abbottabad.

The resolution also seeks his release from the jail. Dana Rohrabacher, congressman from California along with nine other congressmen introduced the resolution seeking to recognize Afridi as an American hero and that he be immediately released from custody by Pakistan. Rohrabacher is Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats.

"All Americans owe Dr Afridi a gratitude for what he did to help us find Osama Bin Laden and bring him to justice. He and his family have paid a terrible price at the hands of our so-called allies, the Pakistani government," Rohrabacher said in a statement.

"We cannot continue to turn our back on Dr Afridi. He risked his life to provide the intel our forces needed to locate and eliminate Osama bin Laden and he now languishes in a Pakistani prison serving a 33-year sentence," Rohrabacher said.

The congressman said Afridi and his family has been tortured and he is still in a desperate situation.

"It behooves us as Americans to state in a unified voice to his Pakistani captors, Dr Afridi should be freed," Rohrabacher said.

At Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony two stars of the feature film "Zero Dark Thirty," also spoke out about Afridi's plight.

Jessica Chastain said "[it] breaks my heart he's still in prison," and Jason Clarke said "it's wrong that he's being held.

"In May 2011, three weeks after the US raid that killed Laden, the Pakistani government arrested Afridi for accessing Laden's compound and helping the US identify who was hiding there.

This was confirmed when then Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta stated that Afridi was "an individual who in fact helped provide intelligence that was very helpful with regards to this operation to kill or capture Bin Laden."

Story First Published: February 28, 2013 09:08 IST

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