ISLAMABAD – The Pakistani doctor who helped the Central Intelligence Agency find Osama bin Laden is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars, regardless of whether charges of manslaughter filed against him last week stick, security officials and analysts say.
The doctor, Shakil Afridi, 51, has been imprisoned by Pakistani authorities since May 2011 for his role in a fictitious polio immunization program that the CIA hoped would provide proof that bin Laden was hiding with his family in a high-walled compound in the town of Abbotabad, 60 miles north of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital.
The ruse failed to collect the evidence the CIA was hoping for, but Afridi was imprisoned anyway. Repeated U.S. entreaties that he be released – most recently in October, when Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the White House – have been rejected.
That’s likely to continue, analysts here say, because the country’s powerful army has made it clear that it views Afridi as a traitor for working for the CIA, even though bin Laden had ordered terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of Pakistani troops and civilians.