Man Who Helped US Find Osama Bin Laden May Soon Be Released From Pak Jail

The US has been pressing Pakistan to release Dr Shakil Afridi, who was involved in a CIA-linked plan to find bin Laden with a fake vaccination operation in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad.

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Man Who Helped US Find Osama Bin Laden May Soon Be Released From Pak Jail

Dr Shakil Afridi was sentenced to 33 years in prison on various charges (File)


Peshawar:  Dr Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor serving a 33-year jail term for helping the CIA in tracking down al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden to Abbottabad in 2011 could be released this month after authorities remitted 10 years of his sentence, according to his lawyer.

The US has been pressing Pakistan to release Dr Afridi, who was involved in a CIA-linked plan to find bin Laden with a fake vaccination operation in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad.

Advocate Qamar Nadeem told the BBC Urdu service that Dr Afridi, who has received several remissions in sentence, will complete his jail term this month.

He said that Dr Afridi was awarded a total of 33 years jail term on four different charges in which he was awarded 30 years on three counts while three years on one. However, after an approval of his appeal, 10 years of imprisonment had been remitted, the Express Tribune reported.

According to Mr Nadeem, if Dr Afridi's total jail term and remissions are taken into consideration, then he is likely to be freed this month.

Dr Afridi, 56, was shifted to Adiala Jail of Rawalpindi from Peshawar central jail on Friday, apparently due to security concerns.

According to media reports, he was moved in a helicopter but no official statement was issued by the government. However, it is still not clear as to whether he will be kept in Adiala jail or shifted to another location, the report said.

There is a chance that after his release, Dr Afridi might move to the US to settle there permanently, it said.

A team of expert doctors has reportedly examined him in Adiala jail and declared him completely fit. According to jail sources, he has been kept under strict security measures and additional guards have been posted at his barracks, it said.

Dr Afridi, the former surgeon of Khyber Agency, had run a false vaccination campaign in the Pakistani garrison city of Abbottabad to help the CIA track down bin Laden in his compound and kill him in a raid by US Navy Seals on May 2, 2011.

He was arrested from Peshawar later that year.

In 2012, he was sentenced to 33 years in prison by the political administration of Khyber Agency under the Frontier Crimes Regulation, the colonial-era laws that govern the tribal regions, for having links with banned militant groups.

The issue of Dr Afridi's release is reportedly one of the major obstacles to the improvement of ties between the US and Pakistan.

Soon after the death of bin Laden, the US media reported that Dr Afridi had contributed to the success of the CIA operation by collecting DNA samples of bin Laden's family through the fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad.

Two years ago, US President Donald Trump had said during his campaign for presidential elections that he could have Dr Afridi released in two minutes and he was certain that the Pakistani officials would not object, the report said.

The US State Department has previously said that Dr Afridi has been unjustly imprisoned in Pakistan and Washington has clearly communicated its position to Islamabad in his case, both in public and in private.

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