Former Pakistani officials, speaking to Reuters news agency, described Dr Afridi as a hard-drinking womaniser who had faced accusations of sexual assault, harassment and stealing. They said his main obsession was making easy money.
The agency said, according to a 2002 Pakistan health department document seen by the news agency, Afridi was deemed to be corrupt and unreliable and unfit for government service.
According to Reuters US officials on Monday called the accusations character assassination. In Washington, one senior official said the US government was unaware of any questionable behaviour by Afridi.
“Available information showed Afridi was a respected member of the Pakistani health care community,” the senior official told. “We are aware of efforts, put in place since Dr Afridi’s arrest, to denigrate his character.”
Another US official said told the news service : “It’s nothing short of puzzling that Pakistani officials would disparage someone who helped in the hunt for bin Laden, a terrorist who had Pakistani blood on his hands.”
Tariq Hayat, formerly the highest government official in the Khyber tribal region, said he knew Afridi when the doctor worked at a hospital there and was a senior medical officer.
Hayat said he met him twice to question him over allegations that he had sexually assaulted a nurse at his hospital and had stolen its electrocardiograph machines for his private practice.
“I made him stand … I told him you are a characterless person, you have no principles,” said Hayat, adding he had Afridi fired and expelled him from Khyber. “I said ‘you are a thief, doctor’.”
A senior health official who said he saw a record of the case said a nurse had complained about sexual harassment to the regional health director. That account was confirmed by a senior police official who investigated Afridi.
“A number of nurses had complained about him, that he had behaved inappropriately with them,” said the police official, adding that Afridi was also accused of stealing material sent by international aid agencies and selling it.