Pakistan Doctor Charged Instead With Aiding Militants

May 30, 2012 Updated: June 5, 2012

The Pakistani doctor who helped the United States locate Osama bin Laden was actually imprisoned for helping Islamist militants, according to court documents.

Shakil Afridi was sentenced to 33 years last week by a Pakistani court on treason charges because he helped the CIA find bin Laden.

However, the documents, which were obtained by Reuters, show that he was jailed because he helped Islamist militants.

“There was a lot of friction because of this case with the United States. This appears to be an effort to patch things up with the United States, while also satisfying the people of Pakistan that Afridi has been punished,” Mansur Mahsud, a researcher at the FATA Research Center in Islamabad, told the news agency.

The sentencing placed even more strain on ties between the United States and Pakistan. Islamabad last year closed off NATO supply routes into Afghanistan because the coalition accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in an airstrike, while the United States has suggested that Pakistan has not been entirely cooperative in the war on terror.

Earlier this week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta criticized Pakistan for sentencing Afridi while some U.S. lawmakers have said they would lobby to try to secure his release.

“It is so difficult to understand and it’s so disturbing that they would sentence this doctor to 33 years for helping in the search for the most notorious terrorist in our times,” Panetta said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week.”