A Pakistani doctor was sentenced to 33 years in prison Wednesday for helping the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] locate Osama Bin Laden [JURIST news archive]. After a trial lasting two months during which Shakeel Afridi was not afforded the opportunity to defend himself, a tribal court convicted him of treason and spying [CNN report]. Afridi was part of a CIA attempt to gather DNA samples from residents of Bin Laden's Abbattobad compound in an effort to determine whether Bin Laden was present there. US Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Carl Levin (D-MI) [official websites] released a statement [text] after the sentence was handed down condemning the sentence and urging the Pakistani government to release Afridi:
It is shocking and outrageous that Dr. Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who assisted the United States in the search for Osama bin Laden, has been sentenced to 33 years in prison for the crime of treason. What Dr. Afridi did is the furthest thing from treason. It was a courageous, heroic, and patriotic act, which helped to locate the most wanted terrorist in the world - a mass murderer who had the blood of many innocent Pakistanis on his hands.Afridi will likely be able to appeal the ruling, and analysts have suggested that a reversal is likely.
Since controversy arose over the killing of Bin Laden [JURIST report] by US forces in Pakistan last May, Pakistan's alliance with the US has been questioned. In December the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] formed a judicial committee to investigate a secret memo sent from an unknown Pakistani source to US Admiral Mike Mullen in May asking for help in preventing a suspected army coup. Former Pakistan ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari [BBC profile] have been accused of writing or having knowledge of the memo, and both have denied these allegations. The growing conflict between the US and Pakistan was analyzed by JURIST guest columnist Sikander Ahmed Shah in Drone Strikes in Pakistan: Examining Consent in International Law [JURIST op-ed]. Pakistan has also faced an ongoing struggle with corruption that the courts have attempted to battle.