Bin Laden Snitch Wasn't Convicted of Treason
Shakil Afridi was actually convicted of colluding with a warlord
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 30, 2012 2:20 PM CDT
This photo taken on July 9, 2010 shows Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi taken in Pakistani tribal area of Jamrud in Khyber region.   (AP Photo/Qazi Rauf)

(Newser) – The Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden was never actually charged with treason, as was initially reported. Shakil Afridi, who was sentenced to 33 years in prison, was actually convicted of colluding with anti-government Islamist warlord Mangal Bagh, tribal court documents show. The fact that Afridi was tried in the tribal justice system, rather than regular court as had been expected, could be good for him: It's more likely he could be released early or even exchanged in a deal with the US (a Senate panel angrily voted to cut aid to Pakistan in the wake of his prison sentence).

A four-man council of tribal elders actually declined to look into allegations that Afridi had CIA ties, citing lack of jurisdiction, and focused on ties to Bagh instead. Afridi was convicted of donating $22,222 to Bagh's Lashkar-i-Islam, whose militant forces are fighting the Pakistan army, as well as of providing medical assistance to the group's commanders. But Afridi's friends and relatives say Lashkar-i-Islam fighters actually kidnapped Afridi and held him hostage until he paid between $6,600 and $16,600. It could be years before the US and Pakistan are able to negotiate for Afridi, and in the meantime, there is an effort to get Afridi transferred out of his current jail over fears for his safety. See the New York Times for more.