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Hero Pakistani doc who helped get bin Laden hit with dubious murder charge

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Shakil Afridi says he helped the CIA track Usama bin Laden because he loves America.AP

Shakil Afridi, the hero Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA pinpoint Usama bin Laden's compound ahead of the Navy SEAL raid that killed the Al Qaeda leader, has been charged with murder -- for trying to save a little boy stricken with appendicitis six years ago, according to his attorney.

The bizarre charge comes as international pressure mounts on Pakistan to free Afridi, who was sentenced last year to 33 years in prison for "conspiring against the state," a sanction western observers believe was a pretext to punish him for helping the U.S. Afridi executed a vaccination ruse that helped establish bin Laden's presence in an Abbottabad compound, a development seen as embarrassing for Pakistan, which claimed not to know the world's most wanted man was living openly a stone's throw away from a military complex. 

Attorney Samiullah Afridi said Friday that Shakil Afridi was charged with murder in the case of the unnamed boy, who after the doctor operated on him n 2007 in Pakistan's Khyber tribal area. The boy's mother filed a complaint against the doctor, saying he was not authorized to carry out the surgery because he was a physician, not a surgeon, according to The Associated Press.

The lawyer said the case had no merit because too much time had passed. But supporters believe that the murder charge could keep Afridi imprisoned even if a retrial ordered in August of his conspiracy charge results in an acquittal.

Afridi is fighting the conspiracy charge from prison, but has repeatedly been denied the right to see his lawyer or even attend court proceedings. His sentence was overturned in August and a retrial ordered.

Afridi, who professed his love for America in an exclusive interview with FoxNews.com last year, was nabbed in the days following the dramatic Navy SEAL raid in 2011. A government-commissioned report, supposedly independent from the Pakistani leadership and likened to the U.S.'s own 9/11 Commission Report, blamed the U.S. for Afridi's capture and imprisonment.

The report, ordered to get to the bottom of how bin Laden had lived freely in the country for so long and how the U.S. could conduct a raid on its sovereign territory, blamed former Secretary of Defense and ex-CIA Director Leon Panetta for publicly acknowledging Afridi's role in the ruse. By going public with his participation, the report claimed, any chance that Pakistani authorities could help him get out of the country vanished.