The imprisoned Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden's compound, Dr. Shakil Afridi, managed to make a phone call to Fox News' Dominic Di-Natale and describe the brutal tortue he says he's been subject to since being arrested for treason last year.
He described how during his own interrogation, in which he was tortured with cigarette burns and electric shocks, ISI officers attacked him for assisting the U.S ...
“My clothes were removed and I was forced by a major to wear old dirty torn rags of an army conductor. It was difficult to eat food. I had to bend down on my knees to eat with only my mouth, like a dog. I sat on the floor.”
He was blindfolded for eight months and handcuffed with his hands behind his back for 12 months, he says. His treatment has left a debilitating effect on his eyesight and limbs.
There's no mention of how Afridi managed to conduct the interview in the Fox piece, but the BBC reports that Pakistani prison officials "were taken by surprise by reports of the interview" and "did not rule out that a phone could have been smuggled into his cell." Regardless, on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, Afridi picked the perfect time to reach out to the American public, who are pretty much his only shot for an early release for his 33-year prison sentence. Afridi expressed love for America and claimed Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency sees the U.S. as its "worst enemy":
“I tried to argue that America was Pakistan’s biggest supporter – billions and billions of dollars in aid, social and military assistance -- but all they said was, ‘These are our worst enemies. You helped our enemies.’” ... Afridi told Fox News he helped the CIA out of love for the U.S., and swore that he would help America again despite suffering crippling torture and psychological abuse during the 12 months he was held by Pakistan’s spy agency.
Afridi's script certainly plays into the narrative that the White House and Congress have recited that Afridi is a hero for helping the U.S. find bin Laden. One thing to consider, however, is that Afridi, by his own admission, had no idea that he was helping find Osama bin Laden when he operated a fake vaccination campaign for the CIA. That scheme attempted to secretly collect DNA evidence from local Abbottabad residents in the hope of finding bin Laden's DNA and sending that information to the CIA. Someone willing to deceive his own patients in order to help a foreign spy agency catch an unknown person should certainly raise suspicions about Afridi's character, especially given previous allegations of corruption and quackery on his part. Still, the CIA, and by extension the U.S., hasn't forgotten how he helped them and continues to push for his release. Clearly, in the spy business, personal foibles don't always count against you.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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