Pakistan gives bin Laden doctor 33 years | News | DW | 23.05.2012
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Pakistan gives bin Laden doctor 33 years

A Pakistani court has given a doctor a lengthy sentence for aiding America's man-hunt for Osama bin Laden. The development has not been welcomed by the United States.

A court in Pakistan has sentenced a doctor to 33 years in prison for helping the United States find the former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, an official announced on Wednesday.

"Dr Shakil has been sentenced to 33 years imprisonment and a fine of 320,000 Pakistani rupees ($3,477)," said Mohammad Nasir, a government official in the northwestern city of Peshawar, where the doctor, Shekeel Afridi, will serve his sentence.

Afridi, who was first seized last May after bin Laden was tracked down and killed by US special forces in a Pakistani town, was charged with treason. He stood accused of helping the US intelligence agency locate bin Laden by carrying out a fake vaccination campaign for the CIA.

The development is anticipated to further antagonize already strained relations between the United States and Pakistan and the former made its unease at the case clear on Wednesday.

"We continue to see no basis for these charges, for him being held, for any of it," US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters, although Nuland declined comment on the specific sentence that was handed to Afridi.

Washington had lobbied for Afridi to be released and is likely to be particularly irked at the fact that the ruling comes at a crucial juncture in its sensitive talks with Islamabad over the reopening of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.

Last year Islamabad closed NATO's supply avenue to Afghanistan, following an American airstrike on Pakistani border posts that left 24 soldiers dead.

And Pakistani resentment over the US raid last year on bin Laden's hideout in Abbotabad, 61 kilometers outside of Islamabad, continues to linger.

sej/tj (dpa, Reuters)