Jailed doctor Shakil Afridi who helped find Osama Bin Laden 'turned down relocation to US'

Reports also suggest Shakil Afridi was jailed for links to Islamists, not for helping America

The controversy over the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA trace Osama Bin Laden and was subsequently jailed for 33 years took a new twist when it was claimed that the physician had turned down the chance to relocate to US. It also emerged the doctor was convicted last week of alleged links to militants, rather than assisting American intelligence.

Two US officials quoted by Reuters said that shortly before last year's 2 May raid by US special forces in the town of Abottabad, Dr Shakil Afridi and his family were offered the chance to leave Pakistan but declined. A few weeks after the raid, the doctor was arrested by the Pakistani authorities and was last week jailed for 33 years during a court session held in camera.

Before he was arrested, Dr Afridi was offered opportunities to leave Pakistan with his family but he turned those down, one of the US officials said. "Some may question why he did this but no one, including the doctor, could have foreseen that Pakistan would punish so severely someone whose work benefited the country so much," the official said.

The claim by US officials in Washington comes amid a flurry of conflicting reports about the doctor recruited by the CIA and tasked with carrying out fake vaccinations in an attempt to obtain DNA from Bin Laden's children to confirm the identity of those living in the compound. While he was ultimately unsuccessful, officials have said one of the nurses contracted by Dr Afridi was able to obtain a phone number belonging to one of the al-Qa'ida leader's couriers. This proved to be crucial in leading the CIA to the hideout.

Yesterday, Pakistani media revealed a five-page court document appearing to show that contrary to widespared claims made last week that Dr Afridi had been convicted of treason for helping the CIA, he had in fact been found guilty of having links to a militant outfit, Lashkar-i-Islam, and its leader Mangal Bagh.

The court in the Khyber tribal region, operating under the British-era Frontier Crimes Regulations, said that Bagh had been paid £14,000 by Dr Afridi, whose affection for the warlord "and association with him was an open secret". It also said there was evidence that Dr Afridi had co-operated with a foreign intelligence agency and that another court should investigate such allegations. In another report, Pakistani officials described Dr Afridi as a hard-drinking womaniser who had been accused of theft and harassment. Yet another report, by the Agence France-Presse, quoted a health official who dismissed the allegations.

The flurry of reports might suggest that Pakistani authorities are trying to smear the name of Dr Afridi amid intense criticism from the US over the conviction and jailing of the doctor. The US has insisted the physician was aiding Pakistan as he was helping in the hunt for a militant leader whom the authorities in Islamabad were either unable or unwilling to locate.

Last week, US Senators cut $33m (£21m) in aid to Pakistan in a response to the jailing. It amounted to $1m for every year of his sentence.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to make the cut. "It's arbitrary, but the hope is that Pakistan will realise we are serious," said Senator Richard Durbin, the Senate's second-highest-ranking Democrat. The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, called the doctor's jailing "unjust and unwarranted" and vowed to press the case with Islamabad.

Dr Afridi's family have defended him and dismissed allegations of treason. They are also concerned about his safety. His brother, Jamil Afridi, said efforts were already underway to launch an appeal against the conviction. In a message passed to The Independent through an intermediary, Jamil Afridi said: "I've categorically said that he is not guilty. That is why we are pleading the case. Moreover, Dr Afridi had a US visa and had visited USA also. If he were guilty he could have left Pakistan and stayed in the US, which he did not do."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Plumber

£22000 - £25900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is expanding and th...

Recruitment Genius: Corporate Account Manager

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Corporate Account Manager is ...

Recruitment Genius: Chef de Partie

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This award winning conference venues provider...

Recruitment Genius: Admin Assistant

£12000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding Insurance Brokerag...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders