On the eve of the decision in Dr. Shakil Afridi’s appeal in Pakistan, the U.S. State Department has reiterated its position that he should never have been convicted for his role in helping the U.S. find Osama bin Laden.
“We believe that the prosecution and conviction of Dr. Afridi sends the wrong message about the importance of our shared interest in taking down one of the world’s most notorious terrorists which was clearly in Pakistan’s interests as well as ours and the rest of the world,” a State Department official told Breitbart News.
“We regret both the fact that he was convicted and the severity of his sentence. We have made our views very well known–both to the Pakistanis and in public,” the official said.
The State Department declined to confirm whether Secretary of State John Kerry brought up Dr. Afridi in meetings with Pakistani officials last week.
Dr. Afridi’s appeal will be delivered, coincidentally, on the second anniversary of the bin Laden raid. Tension around the case is high.
Last week, Dr. Afridi reportedly launched a hunger strike to protest the conditions of his imprisonment, including lack of access to counsel. Shortly after his lawyers suggested hopefully that chances were “fifty-fifty” for a successful appeal, a deadly suicide bombing appeared to target the presiding officer.
The State Department declined to comment on rumors Dr. Afridi would be freed on May 2, and would not verify a report of a hunger strike, but expressed concern for his condition. “If it does turn out to be credible, we are concerned about Dr.Afridi’s health and well being while in prison,” the official told Breitbart News.
Kerry Picket contributed to this report.