Shakil Afridi

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Shakil Afridi
Born 1962 (age 49-50)
Malikdinkhel, Bara, Khyber Agency, FATA, Pakistan
Nationality Pakistan-American
Alma mater Khyber Medical College
Occupation Physician
Known for Helped CIA run fake vaccine program (Abbottabad, Pakistan) to confirm Osama bin Laden's presence through DNA samples.
Religion Islam

Shakil Afridi (Urdu: شکیل آفریدی‎) — or Shakeel Afridi — is a Pakistani physician who helped the CIA run a fake vaccine program in Abbottabad, Pakistan, to confirm Osama bin Laden's presence in the city by obtaining DNA samples.[1] Details of his activities emerged during the Pakistani investigation of the deadly raid on bin Laden's residence.[2] Afridi was arrested at the Torkham border crossing while trying to flee the country days after the raid.[3] On 23 May 2012, he was sentenced to 33 years imprisonment for treason, initially believed to be in connection with the bin Laden raid, but later revealed to be due to alleged ties with a local Islamist warlord Mangal Bagh.[4][5][6] Lawyers appealed against the verdict on 1 June 2012.[7] On 29 August 2013, his sentence was overturned and a retrial ordered.[8] In mid-November 2013, he was charged with murder in regard to the death of a patient he had treated eight years previously.[9]

Biography[edit]

Afridi comes from a humble[citation needed] background and in 1990 graduated from the Khyber Medical College, Peshawar. He had been working as the doctor in-charge of Khyber Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. The doctor has a family. Considered an American hero by many who believe his actions were altruistic, Afridi is currently serving a 33 year sentence in a Pakistani jail, convicted of charges unrelated to his alleged CIA connections. Sentenced for supporting a Pakistani warlord, many of Afridi's supporters appear to have abandoned him at home and abroad, including his alleged U.S. supporters within the CIA and the Obama Administration.[10] He is a native of Khyber Agency.[11] In July 2011, Afridi was described as being in his late 40s. There are numerous online petitions and web pages dedicated to freeing him, such as the "Free Dr. Shakil Alfridi NOW" Facebook page with over 700 likes.[12]

Pakistan's accusations of Afridi[edit]

Colleagues at Jamrud Hospital in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber tribal were suspicious of Dr. Shakeel Afridi's, the hospital’s chief surgeon, absences which he explained as "business" to attend to in Abbottabad. Dr Afridi was accused of having taken a half-dozen World Health Organization cooler boxes without authorization. The containers are for inoculation campaigns, but no immunization drives were underway in Abbottabad or the Khyber agency.[13][14]

On 6 October 2011, the Pakistani commission investigating Bin Laden's death recommended that he be charged with "conspiracy against the state of Pakistan and high treason" on the basis of available evidence.[3] Pakistan seized Dr Afridi's assets.[15] Afridi's residence was sealed by Pakistani authorities and his family moved to an undisclosed location.[16] The 15 male and female health workers who assisted Dr Afridi in the fake vaccination program were also declared not fit for any future employment.[17]

Pakistani investigators said in a July 2012 report that Afridi met 25 times with "foreign secret agents, received instructions and provided sensitive information to them."[18] According to Pakistani reports, Afridi told investigators that the charity Save the Children helped facilitate his meeting with U.S. intelligence agents although the charity denies the charge. The report alleges that Save the Children's Pakistan director introduced Afridi to a western woman in Islamabad and that Afridi and the woman met regularly afterwards.[19][20][21]

Torture[edit]

In an interview with Fox News, Afridi described being routinely tortured by ISI interrogators with cigarette burns and electric shocks while at ISI Headquarters at Abpara.[22] (Citing "very strict security," Afridi's lawyer told BBC News that he had doubts of the authenticity of the interview.)[23]

Family members and a member of his legal counsel claimed Dr. Afridi had been tortured while in Pakistani custody during November 2012.[24] Waad ur Rahman, an Express Tribune blogger argues that through a fair trail, Afridi would also have a chance to defend that why did he not disclose the location of Osama Bin Laden to Pakistani Authorities. He said, only denial of fair trial, makes him an absolute victim of Law.[25]

Sentencing[edit]

On 28 May 2012, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said according to the law in Pakistan Dr. Shakil Afridi has the right to defend himself and should be granted access to higher courts.[26]

On 30 May 2012, Dr Shakil Afridi was sentenced to 33 years in prison for aiding banned militant group Lashkar-e-Islam and not for his links to the CIA, as officials had said earlier, according to a court document.[27]

The court sentenced Afridi under the FCR act. According to the verdict, Afridi would serve 33 years in prison and has to pay Rs. 230,000 as a fine. He was initially detained at the Apbara headquarters of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in Islamabad before being moved to a Peshawar Central Jail in May 2012.[22][28]

On 1 June 2012, Afridi's lawyers appealed his conviction.[29][30]

On 29 August 2013, senior Pakistani judicial official Sahibzada Mohammad Anis issued a ruling that overturned Afridi's sentence and ordered him a retrial. This was due to the decision that the original person who sentenced the doctor was not authorized to hear the case. [8]

In mid-November 2013, the Reuters news agency reported that he had just been charged with murder in regard to the death, eight years earlier, of a patient he had treated. [31]

Hunger strike and current condition[edit]

In late November 2012 Pakistani news provider, The Express Tribune, reported that Dr. Afridi had gone on a hunger strike protesting his prison conditions in the Peshawar jail. News also reported that regarding his treatment the U.S. State Department had "made their views well known to Pakistan and the public at large.[32] In September 2012, a Washington-based correspondent for Fox News claimed that he had interviewed Dr Afridi by phone from inside the jail and spoke to him for 45 minutes.. Two prison guards were arrested and a senior prison official was sacked for allegedly providing Afridi cell phones and camera."

Reactions to arrest and sentencing[edit]

U.S. response[edit]

The U.S. Secretary of Defense, who was then CIA Chief Leon Panetta, has confirmed the role of Afridi in ascertaining the whereabouts of Bin Laden inside the compound in Abbottabad. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that Pakistan has no justification for holding Dr Shakil Afridi.[33] Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA, 48th district) asked President Obama to intercede on Afridi's behalf,[34] introduced two bills, H.R. 4069 to award a Congressional Gold Medal to Dr. Shakeel Afridi[35] and H.R. 3901 to declare Afridi a naturalized U.S. citizen.[36] The U.S. Senate panel cut $33 million in aid to Pakistan over the conviction of Shakil Afridi: $1 million for each of the 33 years of Afridi's sentence.[37]

U.S. authorities said that before his arrest, Shakil Afridi turned down an opportunity to leave his country and resettle overseas with his family.[38] On 31 May 2012, U.S. authorities said that they sought clarification from Pakistan on the issue of Dr Shakeel Afridi's sentence.[39]

In September 2012, the U.S. State Department said that they would consider a prisoner exchange for Afia Siddiqui but Pakistan refused the deal.[40]

Protest by aid groups[edit]

Humanitarian organizations, including Médecins Sans Frontières, protested the use of a medical charity for espionage purposes believing it would cause suspicion of such organizations in the future and endanger personnel working on such projects claiming 'threatened immunisation work around the world'.[41][42]

The Access to Justice Through Legal Aid and Welfare Organisation Peshawar Tuesday named a panel of lawyers to defend Dr Shakil Afridi in his appeal against his conviction.[43]

Lashkar-e-Islam reaction[edit]

On 31 May 2012, Lashkar-e-Islam militants said they had nothing to do with Afridi and would kill him given the chance. A commander in the militant organization told the AFP, "We have no link to such a shameless man. If we see him we'll chew him alive."

The court said Afridi paid two million rupees ($21,000) to Lashkar-e-Islam and helped to provide medical assistance to militant commanders in Khyber. But the commander said the $21,000 was a fine imposed for over-charging patients. "Afridi and his fellow doctor were fleecing tribesmen, giving them fake medicines and doing fake surgeries. We had a lot of complaints against them and imposed a fine of two million rupees on them," he said. Local residents have also told AFP that Mangal Bagh fined Afridi for performing "unnecessary surgeries and over-charging" patients at his private clinic in the town of Bara.[44]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bin Laden death: 'CIA doctor' accused of treason". BBC News. 6 October 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  2. ^ Pakistan holds doctor who tried to collect bin Laden DNA
  3. ^ a b "Pakistan: Doctor Who Aided C.I.A. Should Face Charges, Panel Says". The New York Times. 6 October 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Pakistani doctor accused of helping U.S. gets 33 years in prison". CNN. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "Dr Shakil Afridi jailed for ‘militant links’". The Express Tribune. AFP. 2012-05-30. Retrieved May 31, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Pakistan doctor Shakil Afridi guilty of militancy, not CIA links". The Times Of India. 30 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "Dr Shakil Afridi appeals conviction: Charity". The Express Tribune. AFP. 2012-06-01. Retrieved June 1, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "Pakistan overturns prison sentence for doctor who helped CIA get Bin Laden". Fox News. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  9. ^ "Pakistani doctor who helped U.S. find bin Laden charged with murder". Reuters. 22 November 2013. 
  10. ^ Mir, Amir (2012-02-08). "Pakistan snubs US over Osama informer". Asia Times Online. Retrieved June 3, 2012. 
  11. ^ ANALYSIS: Dr Shakil Afridi —Faruhat Taj
  12. ^ US pressures Islamabad to free doctor who helped CIA track down Bin Laden
  13. ^ The Pakistani Doctor Who Helped the CIA Nail Bin Laden
  14. ^ Abbottabad Commission orders treason case against Dr Afridi
  15. ^ Shakeel Afridi’s assets seized: sources
  16. ^ Dr Shakeel Afridi’s residence sealed in Peshawar
  17. ^ KP govt disqualifies Dr Shakil Afridi for job
  18. ^ Leiby, Richard (2012-07-26). "Pakistan recounts in new report how doctor helped U.S. in bin Laden operation". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 27, 2012. 
  19. ^ Boone, Jon (2012-09-05). "Pakistan orders Save the Children foreign workers to leave". The Guardian. Retrieved September 6, 2012. 
  20. ^ Save the Children foreign staff told to leave Pakistan
  21. ^ Save the Children foreign staff ordered out of Pakistan
  22. ^ a b Di Natale, Dominic (2012-09-10). "EXCLUSIVE: Jailed doc who helped nail Bin Laden warns Pakistan sees U.S. as 'worst enemy'". foxnews.com. FOX News Network. Retrieved September 11, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Bin Laden raid doctor Shakil Afridi speaks out". BBC News. 2012-09-11. Retrieved September 11, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Hero doctor who helped nail Bin Laden tortured in Pakistani prison says family". Fox News. FOX. 2012-12-11. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Give Shakeel Afridi a Fair Trial". Express Tribune. 2014-03-09. Retrieved March 9, 2014. 
  26. ^ Dr Shakil Afridi has the right to defend himself: PM Gilani The News International, May 29, 2012
  27. ^ Dr Shakil Afridi jailed for ties with Lashkar-e-Islam: court Geo News Pakistan, May 30, 2012
  28. ^ "'Bin Laden doctor' jailed for 'fighter links'." Al Jazeera, 30 May 2012.
  29. ^ Lawyers appeal Dr Shakil Afridi's conviction, Geo News, June 01, 2012
  30. ^ Dr Shakil Afridi challenges conviction in FCR Commissioner court, The News, June 02, 2012
  31. ^ "Pakistani doctor who helped U.S. find bin Laden charged with murder". Reuters. 22 November 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 
  32. ^ http://tribune.com.pk/story/473012/in-wake-of-shakil-afridis-hunger-strike-us-reiterates-calls-for-his-release/
  33. ^ No justification to detain Dr Shakil: Clinton
  34. ^ US Congressman to Obama: Don't abandon doctor who helped CIA
  35. ^ H.R.4069 - To award a Congressional Gold Medal to Dr. Shakeel Afridi.
  36. ^ H. R. 3901
  37. ^ US Senate panel cut $33m in aid to Pak
  38. ^ Afridi in OBL hunt rejected US escape: officials Geo News Pakistan, May 30, 2012
  39. ^ US seeks clarity on Dr Afridi reports The News International, May 31, 2012
  40. ^ [1] America has said it can consider the exchange of Dr. Afia Siddiqui with Shakil Afridi but Pakistani ISI chief has denied the deal.[citation needed]
  41. ^ CIA's fake vaccination programme criticised by Médecins Sans Frontières
  42. ^ Aid groups protest to CIA over bin Laden scheme
  43. ^ NGO names lawyers' panel to defend Dr Shakil Afridi The News International, May 30, 2012
  44. ^ "Militants deny link with Dr Shakil Afridi". www.geo.tv. AFP. 2012-05-31. Retrieved June 5, 2012. 

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