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Central & South Asia

'Bin Laden doctor' gets reduced jail term

Pakistani court cuts jail term of Shakil Afridi, allegedly involved in CIA campaign to track down al-Qaeda leader.

Last updated: 15 Mar 2014 09:51
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In addition to having his jail sentence reduced, Afridi's fine has been cut by $1,000 [AFP]

A Pakistani court has reduced the jail sentence of a doctor best known for his alleged involvement with a CIA campaign to find Osama bin Laden.

Shakil Afridi was convicted of treason in May 2012. At the time, Pakistani officials told international and national media that the decision was based on treason charges for aiding the CIA in its hunt for the al-Qaeda chief. A week after the May 23 verdict, however, a court document stated that Afridi was jailed because of his ties to a banned group called Lashkar-e-Islam. 

On Saturday, a tribal court reduced his jail sentence from 33 years to 23 years and reduced the fine from $3,220 to $2,220.

"We will appeal against this decision, because it is unjust," Jamil Afridi, brother of the jailed doctor, told AFP news agency. "We wanted to have a fresh trial, but the court just ruled on one point and reduced the sentence by 10 years. We will file an appeal against this decision."

Conspiracy and treason

Afridi was originally accused of running a vaccination programme for the CIA that was designed to help track down bin Laden. 

Spotlight
Al Jazeera's exclusive coverage of the leaked Bin Laden files

In October 2011, five months after the raid on the bin Laden compound in Abbotabad, a Pakistani government commission said "a case of conspiracy against the state of Pakistan and high treason'' should be registered against Afridi on the basis of the evidence it had gathered.

After Afridi's imprisonment in 2012, US senators voted to cut aid to Islamabad by $33m - one million for each year of his sentence.

Hillary Clinton, who was US secretary of state at the time, described his incarceration "unjust and unwarranted". 

Senator John McCain said: "All of us are outraged at the imprisonment and sentencing of some 33 years - virtually a death sentence - to the doctor in Pakistan who was instrumental ... in the removal of Osama bin Laden".

He added that Afridi was innocent of any wrongdoing. "That has frankly outraged all of us." 

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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