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Doctor sentenced for treason re: bin Laden’s death


A tribal court in northwest Pakistan prosecuted Dr. Shakil Afridi for treason to punish him for his role in Osama bin Laden’s death. Afridi had been running a hepatitis B inoculation program in the city of Abbottabad, and had been turning over DNA samples obtained via the inoculations over to the CIA. The CIA used those DNA samples to confirm that members of bin Laden’s family lived in the city, and it helped to narrow the search to the house where bin Laden was found and killed. Afridi did not know whom the CIA was looking for, and he did not obtain samples from bin Laden’s house (although he may have obtained samples from residents of the house, just not while they were at the house).

The Pakistani court convicted him of treason and sentenced Afridi to 33 years in prison and fined him $3,500 for his role in bin Laden’s death.

Although this ruling came from a tribal court in a semi-autonomous region, and it does not speak for the central government in Islamabad, it indicates that the Taliban has a firm hold on the northwest region of Pakistan, and seeks to punish anyone involved in assisting with the death of bin Laden. Hopefully either the court will be overruled by a higher authority, or the US will cut off all foreign aid for Pakistan.

I hope the US State Department pressures Pakistan to release Afridi. If those negotiations fail, I can envision a scenario where perhaps in a few months, unknown forces may stage a jailbreak for the doctor, while his family mysteriously disappears at the same time. Later they may show up in the United States. No one will know how they got there. ;-)

Clearly Pakistan is working against US interests, and is not an ally in the war against terrorism. That’s why Pakistani authorities were kept in the dark about the bin Laden raid in the first place, because the US military knew that if the Pakistani government were told in advance about the raid, Taliban sympathizers in the Pakistani government would warn bin Laden and he would get away.

There’s no point in placating Pakistan for previous US violations of its sovereignty when it consistently undermines US efforts to fight terrorists based in Pakistan, such as with this court ruling. The US should liberate Afridi and his family and bring them to the US, as a reward to his service in the war against terrorism. To let his prison sentence stand would be a travesty of justice.

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