PESHAWAR, Pakistan – The Pakistani doctor jailed for 33 years for helping the CIA track down Usama bin Laden is in poor health and is being kept in isolation due to fears for his safety, a prison official said Thursday.
Dr. Shakeel Afridi was found guilty of treason Wednesday after being accused of gaining vital information for US intelligence by organizing a fake vaccination program near the slain al Qaeda leader's compound in the town of Abbottabad.
Samad Khan, of the central prison in Peshawar, northwestern Pakistan, told AFP, "His health condition is bad, a team of doctors will examine him in jail today [Thursday]."
Though he would not discuss Afridi's condition further, Khan added, "He has been kept away from other prisoners to avert any danger to his life."
Pakistani officials recovered a GPS device that they said was given to him by US intelligence to arrange meetings with his handlers.
Afridi was taken into custody by Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence agency and later was fired as a government doctor.
In January, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed Afridi worked for US intelligence by collecting DNA to verify bin Laden's presence in Pakistan.
The doctor was found guilty of treason under the tribal justice system of Khyber district, part of Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt. He was also fined 320,000 rupees ($3,500).
The Pakistani authorities were not informed prior to the US Navy SEAL raid that killed bin Laden on May 2, 2011. Not only was it deemed to be an embarrassment that Pakistan had not given its blessing for the raid, it became one of a number of issues to blight relations between the countries.
As a result, Islamabad was determined to make an example of Afridi, according to Pakistani military sources cited by The (London) Times.
US officials and lawmakers reacted angrily to the news Afridi's imprisonment Wednesday.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the committee's ranking Republican, called the sentence "shocking and outrageous" and urged Pakistan to pardon and release Afridi immediately.