Pakistani PM opens door to prisoner swap with US to free ‘hero’ doctor who helped track bin Laden


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For greater than eight years, Dr. Shakil Afridi – usually deemed a “hero” physician for his position within the CIA plot to take down Usama bin Laden – has been languishing behind bars in Pakistani prisons, slapped with a 23-year sentence.

However there now seems to be some motion, or no less than political willingness on each side, to see him freed.


Following a seemingly profitable first assembly between President Trump and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on the White Home, Khan instructed late Monday  prisoner swap for Afridi’s freedom may very well be attainable sooner or later. He acknowledged in an interview with Bret Baier on Fox Information’ “Particular Report” that the physician’s position was an “emotive concern” in his homeland and one which “embarrassed” Pakistanis.

“Right here we have been, an ally of the U.S., and the U.S. didn’t belief us. And so they truly got here and bombed and killed a person in our territory,” Khan stated. “Let’s not overlook that Pakistan misplaced 70,000 folks on this struggle. We have been combating this warfare for the U.S., and we misplaced all these folks combating this warfare. So there was clearly plenty of anger about the best way this complete factor was carried out. However you understand that’s all up to now.”

Khan additionally insisted that it was Pakistan’s intelligence outfit, the ISI, that gave data to the CIA that led to bin Laden’s location close to a navy faculty in Abbottabad. When pressed additional on the Afridi concern, Khan famous that “there are some choices in a democracy which even a major minister finds as tough, as a result of we do have an opposition.  However that is one thing that may be negotiated.”

He went on to recommend the phrases for a attainable deal: “Sure, we even have somebody in jail within the U.S. It’s a frail girl known as Aafia Siddiqui. So sure, we may negotiate some form of a swap,” Khan stated, whereas denying that such an alternate was introduced up within the Trump sit-down. “However sooner or later, as a result of we all know that america desires Shakil Afridi, so we are able to negotiate. No negotiations have began, however you understand, with Aafia Siddiqui, we may negotiate.”

Hypothesis has lengthy swirled attainable prisoner swap may very well be within the playing cards, whereby the U.S. would alternate Afridi for Pakistan’s Aafia Siddiqui – a neuroscientist sentenced in Manhattan federal court docket in 2010 to 86 years in jail for the tried homicide and assault of U.S. nationals and U.S. officers and staff in Afghanistan.

Afridi, who posed as a polio vaccination physician to acquire the DNA swabs from the bin Laden compound, is technically serving out a sentence underneath a conviction for ties to the outlawed militant group, Lashkar-e-Islam. Nevertheless, his supporters have forged such accusations as a fabricated excuse for punishment.

Following their closed White Home assembly on Monday morning, Trump – who many anticipated would no less than elevate the Afridi concern along with his Pakistani counterpart – instructed reporters that he quickly would have “excellent news about hostages,” however no names or additional particulars have been offered.

Al Qaeda operative Aafia Siddiqui, (l.), for Dr. Shakil Afridi (AP)

But the likelihood that the difficulty reached such high-level discussions has given some hope to Afridi’s household and his lawyer and cousin, Qamar Nadeem.

“For me and his household, it’s a second to have fun with a zeal that lastly the Trump administration has fulfilled its promise to deliver this lingering concern to the desk,” he instructed Fox Information on Tuesday morning.

And for Nadeem, the Siddiqui commerce is more and more showing like the one approach ahead.

“There is no such thing as a approach left to bridge the belief deficit between Islamabad and Washington besides reinitiating this high-level prisoner swap. This girl has been expensive to Pakistani folks,” he stated. “Liberating Dr. Afridi will profit Pakistan, assist to regain its misplaced belief with america and [the swap] will assist Prime Minister Khan safe the subsequent election by securing extra Pashtun votes.”

Afridi, who’s now about 57 years outdated, is presently being held in a high-security jail in Sahiwal, Punjab Province, after being moved from a extra guarded facility after rumors ran rampant that the U.S. was making ready to bust him out – although no official motive was offered to his lawyer.

Issues over his dwindling well being situation have as soon as once more been reignited.

“At current, his well being situation has gone from dangerous to worse as he continues to lose kilos between every household go to. Their main concern was of the poor sanitary situations in jail and non-availability of air conditioners or a fan, that has made his life depressing as hell,” Nadeem stated. “Life is non-existent in his jail cell and no measures have been taken to beat the scorching warmth that has triggered a foul rash over his physique, and he’s but to obtain medical remedy.”

The legal professional additionally asserted that his instant household – solely his spouse, kids and his brother Jamil are permitted by the jail superintendent to go to him as soon as a month – have bemoaned what they consider to be violating “physique checks” previous to enter the power.


Furthermore, grave security considerations nonetheless encompass his impoverished household, who’re struggling to outlive financially amid Afridi’s imprisonment. His spouse and kids are pressured to alter areas each few months and lead completely underground lives, Nadeem stated.

President Donald Trump greets Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan as he arrives at the White House, Monday, July 22, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Donald Trump greets Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan as he arrives on the White Home, Monday, July 22, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photograph/Jacquelyn Martin)

He additionally expressed frustration that regardless of being Afridi’s authorized consultant, he been repeatedly denied visitation.

“It’s unlucky that Afridi has been constantly denied [legal] entry to seek the advice of with me on his case. Regardless of my authorized win in court docket which was supposed to permit me to fulfill him, the jail authorities have turned this ruling on deaf ears,” Nadeem stated, urging Khan to deal with this hole within the justice system.

The following attraction listening to is anticipated to happen on Sept. 24, and the lawyer is assured that as long as “Trump is attempting onerous to get him launched,” the case will likely be delivered to an finish in Afridi’s favor.

Afridi was initially apprehended simply weeks after the 2011 raid on the Abbottabad compound the place bin Laden was killed.


Pentagon sources near the operation later instructed Fox Information that efforts and provides had been put in place for Afridi and his instant household to go away the nation. The physician, nonetheless, is claimed to have declined primarily based on the notion he wouldn’t have the ability to take his prolonged household. Furthermore, Afridi – who was not conscious of the goal or the precise nature of the mission when he accepted the paycheck – didn’t anticipate that the factors of the fastidiously crafted CIA scheme can be uncovered by Obama administration officers unveiling particulars in regards to the scheme, blowing his cowl.

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