Doctor who helped CIA find bin Laden given 33-year prison sentence

Thu, May 24, 2012, 01:00

Pakistani authorities have sentenced a doctor accused of helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden to 33 years in jail on charges of treason, officials said, a move certain to further strain ties between Washington and Islamabad.

Dr Shakil Afridi was accused of running a fake vaccination campaign – in which he collected DNA samples – believed to have helped the American intelligence agency track down bin Laden in a Pakistani town. The al-Qaeda leader was killed in a US special forces raid in Abbottabad in May last year.

“Dr Shakil has been sentenced to 33 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 320,000 Pakistani rupees (€2,747),” said Mohammad Nasir, a government official in Peshawar, where the jail term will be served.

Dr Afridi is the first person to be sentenced by Pakistani authorities in the bin Laden case. No one has yet been charged for helping the al-Qaeda leader take refuge in Pakistan.

The imprisonment will anger Washington at a sensitive time, with both sides engaged in difficult talks over re-opening Nato supply routes to US-led troops in Afghanistan.

Senior US officials had made public appeals for Pakistan, a recipient of billions of dollars in American aid, to release Dr Afridi, detained after the operation that killed bin Laden and strained ties with Islamabad.