Negotiations for the release of doctor who helped the CIA pinpoint the location of Osama Bin Laden are ramping up, with the good doctor potentially facing release as early as May.
Doctor Shakil Afridi has been languishing in a Pakistani prison for over half a decade following the daring 2011 raid that resulted in Navy SEALs killing the world’s most wanted man, having been arrested on treason charges and sentenced to 33 years for militant group connections.
A well-placed US intelligence contractor informed Fox News that extensive “backroom dealing” between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and the Pakistani Army in regard to Afridi’s release, particularly due to his declining health.
The source indicated that delays have resulted from the change of power within the Pakistani military ranks, namely Army Chief of Operations General Waseem Ashraf, who recently assumed his position.
“Ultimately, Gen. Ashraf decides Afridi’s status,” the source noted.
American officials condemn Afridi’s imprisonment regret making the details of the raid public, which in turn exposed Afridi’s identity. In their statements, the US has repeatedly called Afridi’s incarceration “unjust.”
Republican Congressman from California Dana Rohrabacher feels the government has dragged their feet on the matter for too long.
“Our government for the last five years has permitted this to go on, the fact that they (Pakistan) have been able to collect any type of military or nonmilitary aid is a travesty and is a comment on our weakness as Americans,” Rohrabacher said.
According to Fox News, the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC did not respond for comment.
Insiders connected to the intelligence community say that the Pakistani Army want to let Afridi go, but also want to “save face” on a national and international scale.
In the elaborate CIA plot to capture or kill Bin Laden, Afridi obtained Bin Laden family DNA through a faux immunization campaign. Once disclosed by the US, the campaign was suspended and polio continued spread through rural parts of the country, as it had prior to 2011. As a result, both public opinion of Afridi and Pakistan vaccination programs received heavy backlash.
If Afridi is released, he and his family will not be safe in Pakistan. Most of his immediate family remains in hiding and his former lawyer was murdered by the Taliban in 2015.
“I assume he and his extended family will live and come here,” the Pentagon source added. “But it could also be a third country to save Pakistan from embarrassment.”
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