ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A doctor who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden has been barred from leaving Pakistan, a commission investigating the killing of the Al Qaeda leader said yesterday.
Dr. Shakil Afridi ran a phony vaccination program in the Pakistani town where the Al Qaeda leader hid in an effort to obtain a DNA sample from him. Afridi is being detained by Pakistani authorities, but has not been charged with any crime.
American officials want him released, and his fate has become a complicating issue in strained relations between the two countries’ spy services. There has been speculation Afridi and his family may leave Pakistan if he is freed.
The government-appointed commission said yesterday that Afridi and other people who are wanted for questioning are banned from leaving Pakistan without special clearance.
The commission has been tasked with investigating how bin Laden managed to hide in the army town of Abbottabad for so long, and the circumstances surrounding the US operation. It is headed by a Supreme Court justice, and its members are a retired general, a former diplomat, a former police chief, and a civil servant.
In July, it issued an order banning the wives and children of bin Laden from leaving the country. They have been detained since the raid, but there had been indications Pakistani authorities were intending to deport one or all of them.
Washington did not tell Pakistan about the raid on bin Laden beforehand, triggering anger here that was fed by the country’s media and the army. Western concerns that elements of Pakistan’s security forces may have sheltered bin Laden did not receive as much attention.