Pakistan: Militants deny link to Shakil Afridi, doctor charged with treason


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.



A Pakistani militant group released a statement on Thursday denying any links to Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA in tracking down Osama bin Laden, according to the Associated Press.

The group, Lashkar-e-Islam, went so far as to threaten Afridi for working with the Americans.

Afridi was convicted last week by a tribal court and sentenced to 33 years imprisonment on treason charges. Initially, Pakistani officials said the charges were based on Afridi helping the CIA, according to Reuters. When this provoked US anger, the officials alleged that the doctor had a history of sexual harassment and assault.

A court document released on Wednesday said Afridi was found guilty of treason for having close ties with and supporting the Lashkar-e-Islam militant group.

More on GlobalPost: Pakistan says doctor in bin Laden case was jailed for militant links

Abdul Rasheed, a commander of the group, told Reuters, "There is no truth to this. We want to get him ourselves. If we get hold of him, we are going to punish him according to sharia law."

Rasheed added, "He is a traitor, an enemy of Islam, a greedy blackmailer."

According to the court, Afridi paid 2 million rupees ($21,000) to Lashkar-e-Islam, but the commander said the money was a fine for over-charging parents, reported Agence France Presse.

More on GlobalPost: Osama bin Laden case: Pakistani doctor who assisted US sentenced for treason

The commander, who spoke anonymously to AFP, said, "Afridi and his fellow doctor were fleecing tribesmen, giving them fake medicines and doing fake surgeries. We had a lot of complaints against them and imposed a fine of two million rupees on them."

A BBC correspondent noted that regardless of the official reason for the charges against Afridi, the public will still believe that he was jailed for helping the CIA. However, if the charges do not include Afridi helping the CIA, the US has less leverage in pushing for his release.

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