Pak knew of Osama hideout, believes Panetta

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta acknowledged that a Pakistani doctor provided key information to the US about Osama`s compound.

Zeenews Bureau

Washington: US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Friday said that he still believed someone in authority in Pakistan knew about Osama bin Laden’s hideout.

In a TV interview to be aired on Sunday, Panetta said, "I personally have always felt that somebody must have had some sense of what was happening at this compound. Don`t forget, this compound had 18-foot walls... It was the largest compound in the area.”

"So you would have thought that somebody would have asked the question, `What the hell`s going on there?`," Panetta told CBS`s "60 Minutes”.

He, however, added that he has no proof Pakistan knew it was Osama bin Laden.

The US defense secretary also acknowledged publicly for the first time that a Pakistani doctor provided key information to the US in advance of the successful Navy SEAL assault on Osama bin Laden`s compound last May.

Panetta said that Shakil Afridi helped provide intelligence for the raid on bin Laden`s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Afridi ran a vaccination program for the CIA to collect DNA and verify bin Laden`s presence in the compound. He has since been charged by Pakistan with treason. Panetta said he is "very concerned" for the doctor.

The Pakistani government had hoped to resolve the Afridi matter quietly, once media attention died down, perhaps releasing him to US custody, according to two Pakistani officials. They requested anonymity because the investigation into charges the doctor behaved treasonously was ongoing.

(With Agency inputs)