The physician who worked with the CIA to track down Osama bin Laden has yet to receive a good prognosis.
Shakil Afridi has been in prison since 2011 on charges of treason, but not in relation to his work with the U.S. government. Rather, officials claim he had worked with militants – a suggestion even the Taliban find hard to believe.
During the hunt for the founder of al-Qaeda, the Pakistani doctor worked with the CIA to operate a fake hepatitis vaccine program in Abbottabad that was actually searching for DNA samples belonging to members of bin Laden’s family, thus confirming their location in the city.
He was taken into custody in May 2011 shortly after U.S. Navy SEALs successfully killed bin Laden on the orders of President Obama.
Since then, Afridi has been behind bars, his wife and children his only visitors as he hasn’t been able to see his lawyer since 2012 while another member of his legal team was gunned down outside his home.
Likewise, not only did Afridi’s file mysteriously disappear for two years, further delaying a court appeal that has yet to take place, but a Peshawar jail deputy superintendent who has advocated on behalf of the doctor was also shot and killed.
Freedom for the man who helped bring down the terrorist leader who directed the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks has become one of many promises President Trump has failed to deliver on.
“I think I would get him out in two minutes,” the then-GOP front-runner told Fox News in 2016, citing how much aid the U.S. gives to the fifth most populated country.
“I would tell them, ‘let him out,’ and I’m sure they would let him out.”
Pakistan responded by calling him “ignorant,” while maintaining that “the government of Pakistan and not Mr. Donald Trump” will decide what happens to Afridi.
Unfortunately for the doctor, the relationship between the Trump administration and the Pakistani government has only gotten worse, with the U.S. suspending what could amount to $2 billion in military aid after the President went on his favorite social media platform to bash Pakistan.
“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump said in New Year’s Day tweet.
“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”
Pakistan said the U.S. is trying to shift blame for its inability to end the conflict still raging within Afghanistan.
For now, the U.S. State Department says it hasn’t forgotten about Afridi and that it has advocated for him.
“We believe Dr. Afridi has been unjustly imprisoned and have clearly communicated our position to Pakistan on Dr. Afridi’s case, both in public and in private,” it said in a statement.
As it stands, he faces 23 years in prison as well as another charge that he killed a patient in 2005.
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