No assurance from Pak on release of doctor who helped track Laden: US

  • PTI, Washington
  • Updated: Apr 30, 2016 11:57 IST
File photo of Pakistani doctor Shakeel Afridi who helped CIA agents track al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011. (AFP)

Pakistan has not given any assurance on the release of the jailed doctor who helped CIA agents hunt Osama bin Laden despite repeated request, a senior American official has said.

“We believe he’s been unjustly prisoned, and we have clearly and repeatedly communicated our position to Pakistan on the Shakeel Afridi case, both in public and private, our opposition to his imprisonment,” State department deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters on Friday.

“We continue to raise this issue at the highest levels in any discussion we have with the Pakistani leadership. The Pakistani government has assured us that Dr Afridi is being treated humanely and is in good health, but we believe he’s being unjustly imprisoned,” he said.

Pakistan has given no commitment on the release of Afridi, who was jailed in 2012 for 33 years for running a fake vaccination campaign that is believed to have helped the US intelligence agency track down bin Laden in Abbottabad in May 2011. That sentence was overturned in 2013 and the doctor is now in jail awaiting a new trial.

“We don’t have any kind of firm commitment. Again, we don’t have any firm commitment about his release or any firm details about his possible release. But we continue to press his case,” Toner said.

Republican Presidential front-runner Donald Trump has said that if elected, he will free the Pakistani doctor.

“I think I would get him out in two minutes,” he said in response to a question during a Fox News interview Thursday, when asked if he would free Shakeel Afridi.

Asked how he would do it, Trump said, “I would tell them let him out and I’m sure they would let him out.”

He plans to leverage US aid, “because we give a lot of aid to Pakistan. We give a lot of money to Pakistan.”

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