Lawyer quits case of Pakistan doctor who helped U.S. find bin Laden
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — The lawyer for the Pakistani doctor who helped the United States find Osama bin Laden said on Sunday that he wouldn't represent him any longer as a result of threats from militants, even as America pushes for the man to be freed.
Lawyer Samiullah Khan Afridi said he made the decision when he received what he described as a “final” warning from militants. Afridi said he represented Dr. Shakil Afridi on humanitarian grounds, but now it is not possible for him to continue. The two Afridis are not related.
“Now they have warned me to either quit the case or be ready to face the dire consequences,” Afridi said. “My family and I are under severe threat.”
The lawyer said the undue American pressure on Pakistan for his client's release also hurt him. Officials in the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad could not be reached for comment.
Dr. Shakil Afridi was initially sentenced to 33 years in prison in May 2012 on being convicted of providing money and medical treatment to Islamic militants in Khyber tribal region — not for helping the CIA track down bin Laden.
His family and the militants have denied the allegations. A Pakistani court later cut Afridi's sentence to 23 years on appeal.
Afridi is widely believed to have been targeted by Pakistani authorities for running the vaccination program that collected DNA to try to verify bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad.
U.S. commandos killed the al-Qaida chief in a unilateral raid in the town in 2011.