ISLAMABAD - A Pakistani doctor accused of running a vaccination program for the CIA to help track down Osama bin Laden should be put on trial for high treason, a government commission ruled yesterday, a move likely to anger US officials pushing for his release.
Dr. Shakil Afridi has been in the custody of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency since soon after the May 2 US raid that killed bin Laden.
The agency was humiliated and outraged by the covert operation and has been aggressively investigating the circumstances.
Afridi’s fate has complicated the CIA and ISI’s relationship, which was already strained to the breaking point by the bin Laden raid.
US and Pakistani officials have said Arifdi ran a vaccination program in Abbottabad where the Al Qaeda leader hid in an effort to obtain a DNA sample from him.
Afridi was detained in the days after the US operation. He has no lawyer.
A Pakistani government commission investigating the raid on bin Laden said in a statement that it was of the view that “a case of conspiracy against the state of Pakistan and high treason’’ should be registered against Afridi on the basis of the evidence it had gathered. It did not elaborate.
Such a charge carries the death penalty.
The commission, which interviewed Afridi and the head of the ISI, Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, this week, has been investigating how bin Laden managed to hide in Abbottabad for as long as five years and the circumstances surrounding the US operation.
It is headed by a Supreme Court justice, and its members include a retired general, a former diplomat, a former police chief, and a civil servant. It is unclear whether it will lead to charges against Afridi.