The Pakistani doctor sentenced to 33 years in prison for his role in the CIA mission to hunt down Usama bin Laden was formally accused not of aiding U.S. intelligence, but assisting a militant Islamic group, according to a judgment provided to Fox News.
The document, which began to circulate to international media overnight, claims Dr. Shakil Afridi was working with the "defunct" militant group Lashkar-e-Islam. It alleged he provided "financial assistance" to the group as well as "medical assistance" to its "militant commanders" while working at a hospital.
The document, though, appears to raise more questions than it answers. U.S. officials consistently have given no indication that Afridi was jailed for anything other than his work with the CIA. Pakistani officials likewise did little to knock that narrative down ever since Afridi was taken into custody last year, and released the document detailing Afridi's alleged militant ties only after U.S. lawmakers threatened retaliation.
But the judgment -- even if it is a tool to mask accusations regarding his CIA work -- could undermine efforts in Washington to press Islamabad for Afridi's release. The judgment was made public just hours after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced a bill to strip Pakistan of all U.S. aid until Afridi is released to the United States.
The judgment itself makes no direct mention of the CIA or the vaccination program he was supposedly running to obtain blood samples from the bin Laden family. The judgment says only, at the end, that Afridi "has been shown acting with other foreign intelligence agencies, but all this evidence could not be taken into account for the lack of jurisdiction."
Instead, he was found guilty by the tribal justice system of being "in league" with Lashkar-e-Islam, a militant group active in the tribal areas and committed to implementing fundamentalist Shariah law. The Afridi tribe has actually had long-running tensions with Lashkar-e-Islam.
The judgment claims Afridi was given "ample opportunity" to defend himself.
The family, though, denies this -- yet they are largely in the dark about the case.
On Tuesday, Afridi's brother Jamil told Fox News that Shakil had been tortured by Pakistani authorities. He appealed to the United States to help his case, by providing lawyers and paying legal fees, even granting the family asylum.
"The blame has been placed on my brother because of America," Jamil Afridi told Fox News. "We should get justice and protection."
In Washington, Paul said he would introduce a pair of bills next week to address Afridi's plight. One would strip Pakistan, which received $2.1 billion from the U.S. for the current fiscal year, of all foreign aid until Afridi's 33-year sentence is overturned and he's allowed to leave the country; the other bill would grant Afridi U.S. citizenship.
The measures would go beyond the vote by a Senate panel last week to strip Pakistan of $33 million in aid.
"Pakistan must understand that they are choosing the wrong side. They accuse Dr. Afridi of working against Pakistan, but he was simply helping the U.S. capture the head of Al Qaeda. Surely Pakistan is not linking their interests with those of an international terrorist organization," Paul said in a statement.
Administration officials have made a similar case, saying repeatedly that Afridi was working against Al Qaeda, not the Pakistani government.
"We certainly believe and know that anyone who assisted the United States in the effort to bring Usama bin Laden to justice was working against Al Qaeda, but not Pakistan," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.
Fox News' Dominic Di-Natale contributed to this report.