WASHINGTON: United States has welcomed reduction in prison sentence of Dr. Shakeel Afridi who helped the CIA track down former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2012.
Speaking at daily press briefing State Department Spokesperson, Jen Psaki, said that the reduction in the sentence “is a positive step.”
She, however, said that Washington’s concerns about Dr. Afridi’s arrest and conviction remained unchanged, “as 23 years is just as unjust and unwarranted as 33 years”.
“We are continuing unabated the efforts we’ve had underway since Dr. Afridi was first arrested, which is to state unequivocally and consistently to the Pakistani Government that the prosecution and conviction of Dr. Afridi sends exactly the wrong message about the importance of our shared interests in counterterrorism and in particular bringing Usama bin Ladin to justice,” she said, while reply to a question.
On March 15, a local tribunal in Peshawar reduced by 10 years the sentence of Dr. Shakil Afridi.
Afridi had assisted US intelligence agency by running a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad which led to the hunt of Osama bin Laden by US forces. He killed in the raid on his compound in Abbotabad on May 22, 2012.
Afridi was arrested by Pakistani authorities from Peshawar where he is still in custody under high security.
He was convicted of treason under the country’s tribal justice system for alleged ties to militants and jailed for 33 years in May 2012.
Authorities set aside the sentence in August last year on appeal and ordered a retrial, but now a tribunal has agreed to cut a decade off his jail term.
The tribunal has reduced the 33-year imprisonment to 23 years and also reduced the fine of 320,000 rupees (3,200 dollars) to 220,000 rupees.