ISLAMABAD – Lawyers of Dr Shakil Afridi, the imprisoned doctor who helped the U.S. mission to find Osama bin Laden, are saying that they expect to be able to present their case in an appeal hearing scheduled for May 24, after three years of postponements, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
Before being elected, President Trump made a promise he said would take “two minutes” to fulfill: Facilitating the release of Shakil Afridi, who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden in 2011 and was subsequently arrested by Pakistani authorities.
A Wall Street Journal news story titled ‘U.S. and Pakistan Discuss Release of Doctor Who Helped Find Osama bin Laden’, said that lawyers of the doctor said that Afridi was wrongly convicted, on charges unrelated to the bin Laden raid, and they see a chance of winning his release.
The Trump administration has also spoken with Pakistan about the prospect of freeing a doctor who helped the U.S. mission to find Osama bin Laden.
“We are trying to accelerate the legal processes,” the Pakistan official told WSJ adding that Dr Afridi’s 23-year sentence could be reduced to the time already served. Another official suggested a presidential pardon was possible.
“Pakistan, which resisted the Obama administration’s persistent efforts to secure Dr. Afridi’s release, is looking for a better relationship with President Donald Trump after relations soured under his predecessor, said a senior Pakistan official,” the report added.
In April 25 meeting in Washington involving H.R. McMaster, the U.S. national security adviser, and Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S Aizaz Chaudhry said, “we said that we need to find a solution and we need to work together to find a solution.”
Dr Afridi, a 53-year-old father of three, was transferred to civilian custody, convicted and moved to a Peshawar prison in May 2012. One of his former lawyers was assassinated in 2015 in an attack claimed by militants.
Former ambassador of Pakistan to Washington, Husain Haqqani had remarked that America “left their man behind.”