Alex Rodriguez & Zulfiqar Ali
May 23, 2012
A Pakistani doctor who led a phony vaccination campaign aimed at helping the CIA pinpoint Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts was convicted of treason Wednesday and sentenced to 33 years in prison, a decision that is likely to further erode Washington’s fragile relations with Islamabad.
The U.S. has been seeking the release of Shakeel Afridi ever since his arrest by Pakistani authorities after the secret U.S. commando raid that killed the Al Qaeda leader in his compound in the military city of Abbottabad a year ago. In January, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that Afridi had provided intelligence that assisted the raid and criticized Pakistan’s arrest of someone involved in helping track down the world’s most wanted man.
From the start, however, Pakistani authorities have regarded Afridi as a traitor and have ignored Washington’s calls for his release. He was tried in a tribal court in the Khyber region along the Afghan border, where he once was designated the chief surgeon.