Court cuts jail term of Pakistan doctor
who helped find bin Laden
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[March 15, 2014]
By Jibran Ahmed
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) — A court in
Pakistan on Saturday reduced by 10 years the jail term handed down to a
Pakistani doctor who helped the United States track down al Qaeda leader
Osama bin Laden, in a blow to his supporters who have been fighting for
Shakil Afridi, hailed as a hero by U.S. officials, was arrested
after U.S. soldiers killed bin Laden in May 2011 in a raid in a
northern Pakistani town that outraged Pakistan and plunged relations
between the strategic partners to a new low.
Pakistan arrested Afridi and sentenced him to 33 years in jail for
being a member of a militant group, a charge he denies.
On Saturday, a court in the city of Peshawar reduced his sentence to
23 years following repeated calls by the United States and his legal
team for his release.
"We will receive a complete court order on Monday and will then
challenge it at the FATA Tribunal," said Afridi's lawyer, Qamar
Nadeem, referring to a higher tribal court.
Afridi has become a new irritant in the complex ties between
Washington and Islamabad that have been deteriorating over past
years despite Pakistan's pivotal role to U.S. interests in
Afghanistan, counter-terrorism and nuclear security.
The day after Afridi was sentenced, the U.S. Senate expressed its
anger by voting to dock Islamabad $33 million in aid — $1 million
for every year of the term.
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Pakistan has accused the doctor of running a fake vaccination
campaign in which he collected DNA samples to help the U.S. Central
Intelligence Agency track down bin Laden.
(Writing by Maria Golovnina; editing by Robert Birsel)
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