The Pakistani Doctor Who Helped the U.S. Find Bin Laden Is Charged with Murder

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Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA track down Osama bin Laden, was charged with murder this week. The charge stems from a 2006 surgery he performed, after which his teenage patient died. The murder charge is in response to accusations from the teenager's mother, Naseeba Gul, who alleges that Afridi was not qualified to perform surgery on her son. The teenager had appendicitis, and died from complications following the operation. She filed the complaint a month ago. Afridi's lawyer told the AP that the case was too old to be tried, and therefore had no legal merit in Pakistan. 

The new set of charges will no doubt do little to ease tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan over the issue of Afridi's freedom. He's already in jail, thanks to a separate May 2012 charge of "conspiring against the state."  That charge doesn't pertain to his role in catching Osama bin Laden. Instead, Afridi is accused of providing medical care and supplies to members of banned militant groups. He's awaiting a retrial, after a judicial officer overturned his initial 33-year sentence. 

The U.S. wants Afridi out of jail, and considers him a hero for running a fake vaccination program in Abbottabad in order to collect DNA samples and confirm the identity of those in bin Laden's compound. Many in Pakistan, however, consider Afridi a traitor, and interpret the May 2011 American mission to kill Osama bin Laden as infuriating and embarrassing for the country. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.