US to raise issue of Shakil Afridi with Pakistan
Washington: Strongly reacting to Pakistan jailing a doctor who helped CIA find Osama bin Laden to 33 years, the US has said there was no basis for the verdict and it will raise the issue with the leadership in Islamabad.
"We continue to see no basis for (Shakil) Afridi to be held," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters yesterday.
A Pakistani court yesterday sentenced Afridi to 33 years of rigorous imprisonment after finding him guilty of "spying on al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden without bringing it to the notice of the government of Pakistan".
The ruling has added fresh strains to already deeply troubled ties between Pakistan and the US.
"We have regularly taken up this matter with Pakistan. I would expect we will continue to," Nuland said.
"I think we`ve said that we don`t see any basis for what`s happened here, and so, you know, we will continue to make those representations to the government of Pakistan," she said.
Meanwhile, two top American Senators have asked Pakistani authorities to pardon and release Afridi immediately.
"It is shocking and outrageous that Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who assisted the US in the search for Osama bin Laden, has been sentenced to 33 years in prison for the crime of treason," Senators John McCain and Carl Levin said in a joint statement.
"We call upon the Pakistani government to pardon and release Afridi immediately. At a time when the US and Pakistan need more than ever to work constructively together, Afridi`s continuing imprisonment and treatment as a criminal will only do further harm to US-Pakistani relations, including diminishing Congress`s willingness to provide financial assistance to Pakistan," the two Senators said.