A Pakistani doctor who aided the CIA in the capture of Osama Bin Laden has been convicted of treason in his native Pakistan, according to a senior official of the Pakistani government. Shakil Afridi has been sentenced to 33 years and fined $3,500. He will be able to appeal the decision in two months. He is currently serving his time at Central Prison in Peshawar.
Afridi was charged because he assisted the United States by hosting a fake vaccination drive to collect a DNA sample from Osama Bin Laden and anyone associated with him so the CIA could pinpoint his location. Various American officials have called for his release. “He was not in any way treasonous towards Pakistan…Pakistan and the United States have a common cause here against terrorism,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who was director of the CIA during the Bin Laden operation. “For them to take this kind of action against somebody who was helping to go after terrorism, I just think is a real mistake on their part.”
This conviction is an added source of contention between the United States and Pakistan, who have been at odds since Pakistan closed a supply line that ran between their country and Afghanistan. Afridi was convicted under a law that forgoes the death penalty for treason. Under traditional Pakistani law, Afridi would have been put to death. Pakistani officials feel Afridi’s actions were a potential threat to their nation. “He was working for a foreign spy agency,” said an anonymous official. “We are looking after our national interests.”