Shakil Afridi rejected US escape: Report

Dr Shakil Afridi has been sentenced to 33 years in prison for helping the United States track down Osama bin Laden.

Zeenews Bureau

Washington: Dr Shakil Afridi, who has been sentenced to 33 years in prison for helping the United States track down Osama bin Laden, rejected a resettlement offer, two US officials told a news agency.

The conviction of Dr Afridi last week added another pressure point in Pakistan`s already fractured relationship with the US.

According to the US officials, Afridi was offered a chance to leave Pakistan and resettle overseas with his family about the time of the May 01, 2011, raid in which US Navy SEAL commandos killed Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda leader, at his complex in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

They indicated that Afridi`s family would have been welcome to leave Pakistan with him as part of the resettlement plan. The officials said he turned down the offer for reasons that are unclear.

The family of Afridi had said on Monday the man is innocent and dismissed his trial as a sham.

Afridi ran a vaccination campaign on behalf of the CIA to collect blood samples of bin Laden`s family at a compound in Abbottabad where US commandos killed the al Qaeda leader in May 2011. The samples were intended to help the US match the family`s DNA to verify his presence in the garrison city.

Afridi was tried under the Frontier Crimes Regulations, the set of laws that govern Pakistan`s semiautonomous tribal region. The FCR doesn`t allow suspects to have legal representation, present material evidence or cross-examine witnesses. Verdicts are handled by a government official in consultation with a council of elders, instead of by a judge.

The raid by American commandos infuriated Pakistani officials who were not told ahead of time or of the CIA operation in their country to track him down. Afridi was arrested in the weeks after the raid. He was convicted and sentenced last week for conspiring against the state.

The lawyers said authorities have not given them documents related to the case, including a copy of the verdict.

Afridi`s brother, Jamil, said the doctor had an American visa and pointed out that he stayed in Pakistan after the bin Laden raid for 20 days, and didn`t leave the country.

"Had he been guilty, he would have escaped," Jamil Afridi said.

He did not comment on whether he thought his brother should have helped the US.

(With Agency inputs)