Pakistan denies ‘deal’ on doctor who helped CIA track bin Laden
Pakistan on Thursday dismissed rumours that the decision to move Shakeel Afridi, the doctor who helped the CIA track Osama bin Laden, from a prison in Peshawar to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi was part of a possible deal with the United States government to free him.
Afridi was a senior medical officer in the Khyber tribal region when he was arrested shortly after US special forces killed bin Laden in a raid in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011. He was imprisoned the following year for his alleged links to a banned militant group.
Foreign Office spokesman Muhammad Faisal told a weekly news briefing that authorities were not planning to swap Afridi for Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani national convicted in the US of the attempted murder of an American soldier in Afghanistan and given a 86-year prison term, or former Pakistani ambassador Husain Haqqani, who lives in the US and has been accused of involvement in the Memogate scandal that surfaced in 2011.
Faisal rejected questions about media reports that claimed the Central Intelligence Agency had tried to stage a jailbreak in Peshawar to rescue Afridi, and said he had no information about the matter since it concerned the interior ministry.
Afridi, a former senior surgeon believed to be in his mid-50s, was arrested after it emerged he had passed on intelligence about the former Al Qaeda chief to the CIA. He was accused of helping the CIA track bin Laden in Abbottabad. However, he was never tried on those charges.
It emerged in May 2012 that he had been tried under the Frontier Crimes Regulation and sentenced to 33 years in prison after being convicted of ties to the banned Lashkar-e-Islam, a charge he has always denied. The sentence was later reduced to 10 years by the FCR commissioner.
Last week, Afridi was airlifted by a helicopter from Peshawar jail amid tight security and taken to Adiala Jail.
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