||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2013)|
|Born||1962 (age 49–50)
Malikdinkhel, Bara, Khyber Agency, FATA, Pakistan
|Alma mater||Khyber Medical College|
|Known for||Helped CIA run fake polio vaccine program (Abbottabad, Pakistan) to confirm Osama bin Laden's presence through DNA samples.|
Shakil Afridi (Urdu: شکیل آفریدی) – or Shakeel Afridi – is a Pakistani physician who helped the CIA run a fake polio vaccine program in Abbottabad, Pakistan, to confirm Osama bin Laden's presence in the city by obtaining DNA samples. Details of his activities emerged during the Pakistani investigation of the deadly raid on bin Laden's residence. Afridi was arrested at the Torkham border crossing while trying to flee the country days after the raid. 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. Lawyers appealed against the verdict on 1 June 2012. On 29 August 2013, his sentence was overturned and a retrial ordered. In mid-November 2013, he was charged with murder in regard to the death of a patient he had treated eight years previously.
Afridi comes from a humble 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 US supporters within the CIA and the Obama Administration. He is a native of Khyber Agency. 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.
Pakistan's accusations of Afridi
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 authorisation. The containers are for inoculation campaigns, but no immunisation drives were underway in Abbottabad or the Khyber agency.
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. Pakistan seized Dr Afridi's assets. Afridi's residence was sealed by Pakistani authorities and his family moved to an undisclosed location. The 15 male and female health workers who assisted Dr Afridi in the fake polio vaccination program were also declared not fit for any future employment.
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." According to Pakistani reports, Afridi told investigators that the charity Save the Children helped facilitate his meeting with US 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.
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. (Citing "very strict security," Afridi's lawyer told BBC News that he had doubts of the authenticity of the interview.)
Family members and a member of his legal counsel claimed Dr. Afridi had been tortured while in Pakistani custody during November 2012. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 authorised to hear the case. 
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. 
Hunger strike and current condition
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 US State Department had "made their views well known to Pakistan and the public at large. 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
The US 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. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that Pakistan has no justification for holding Dr Shakil Afridi. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA, 48th district) asked President Obama to intercede on Afridi's behalf, introduced two bills, H.R. 4069 to award a Congressional Gold Medal to Dr. Shakeel Afridi and H.R. 3901 to declare Afridi a naturalised US citizen. The US 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.
US authorities said that before his arrest, Shakil Afridi turned down an opportunity to leave his country and resettle overseas with his family. On 31 May 2012, US authorities said that they sought clarification from Pakistan on the issue of Dr Shakeel Afridi's sentence.
Protest by aid groups
Humanitarian organisations, including Médecins Sans Frontières, protested the use of a medical charity for espionage purposes believing it would cause suspicion of such organisations in the future and endanger personnel working on such projects claiming 'threatened immunisation work around the world'.
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.
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 organisation 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.
- CIA activities in Pakistan
- Jamrud, located in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, where the hospital was that Afridi was the chief surgeon of
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- H. R. 3901
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