Pakistan to US: Respect our decision to sentence CIA informant
After a Pakistani doctor was sentenced to 33 years in prison on treason charges for helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden, the US protested, saying he was acting against Al Qaeda, not Pakistan.
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Middle East Editor
Ariel Zirulnick is the Monitor's Middle East editor, overseeing regional coverage both for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She is also a contributor to the international desk's terrorism and security blog.
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In response to US ire and a pledge to assist a Pakistani doctor charged with treason for helping the US capture Osama bin Laden, the Pakistani foreign ministry called on the US to "respect" its legal process.
Dr. Shakil Afridi ran a vaccination program to help the CIA collect DNA to verify that the man hiding in Abbotabad was, indeed, Mr. bin Laden. Yesterday Afridi was sentenced to 33 years in prison by a tribal court and issued a $3,500 fine on charges of "conspiring 'to wage war against Pakistan or depriving it of its sovereignty,' 'concealing existence of a plan to wage war against Pakistan' and 'condemnation of the creation of the state and advocacy of abolition of its sovereignty'," Pakistani newspaper Dawn reports.
“I think as far as the case of Mr. Afridi is concerned, it was in accordance with Pakistani laws and by the Pakistani courts, and we need to respect each other’s legal processes,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Moazzam Ali Khan told reporters today, according to Dawn.
But the US State Department said yesterday that there is "no basis" for Afridi's arrest. "We continue to see no basis for these charges, for him being held, for any of it," said spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, according to the Guardian. "We will continue to make representations."
The Guardian reports that the Obama administration is "privately" angry, insisting that the doctor was acting against Al Qaeda, not Pakistan. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressed his concerns about Afridi's arrest as early as January and the administration hoped for months that he would be released as the controversy stirred up by the bin Laden raid settled.