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Pakistan says doctor in bin Laden case was jailed for militant links

Pakistan said the doctor who helped the CIA locate Osama bin Laden was jailed for militant links, not because of his connection to the bin Laden case.

Osama bin laden pakistani doctor shakil afridi jailed militant linkEnlarge
This photograph shows Pakistani surgeon Shakil Afridi, who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden. The court judgment from his sentencing showed on May 30, 2012, that he was tried for treason for links to a militant group, not for helping the CIA. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

A trial court's judgment, released on Wednesday, showed that the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA track down Osama bin Laden was jailed last week for alleged links to a militant group, not for his involvement in the CIA case, according to the BBC.

Shakil Afridi was jailed for 33 years by a tribal court on treason charges. The text of the judgment showed that he was found guilty of supporting and providing medical treatment to militants from Lashkar-e-Islam, said the BBC.

Pakistani officials previously implied that Afridi's arrest was linked to a fake vaccination program he ran as a cover for obtaining blood samples from bin Laden's family members in order to prove his presence in Abbottabad, according to CBS News.

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On Wednesday, a Pakistani government official from Peshawar told CBS News that "while the charges of Dr. Afridi's work for the Americans remains a serious matter in Pakistan, his more immediate charges are to do with his work with militants."

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Afridi was convicted for conspiring with Mangal Bagh, a militant commander in the northern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

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Mansur Mehsud, the director for research at the FATA Research center, an independent think tank in Islamabad, told Reuters, "There was a lot of friction because of this case with the United States. This appears to be an effort to patch things up with the United States, while also satisfying the people of Pakistan that Afridi has been punished."

On Friday, the US cut $33 million in aid to Pakistan in response to Afridi's jailing, said the BBC, $1 million for each year of his jail term.

The Associated Press noted that the reason behind Afridi's jailing could complicate efforts by the US to argue for his release, as Pakistan could now say Afridi's trial was an internal matter, with no connection to the CIA.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/120530/pakistan-says-doctor-bin-laden-case-was-jailed-mi