Pakistani authorities have moved Shakeel Afridi, a doctor who contributed to the CIA operation to track down Osama bin Laden, the former leader of al-Qaeda terrorist organization (banned in Russia), from a prison in the city of Peshawar to another facility because of his plans to escape, a source familiar with the matter told RIA Novosti.
“In end December, ISI [Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence] was tipped about the plan and reconnaissance of the premises by a source, a local informant. The plan then was scuttled by ISI… Dr. Shakeel Afridi has been shifted to some unknown safe location,” the source said.
Soon after the death of bin Laden in May 2011, US media reported that Afridi had contributed to the success of the CIA operation by collecting DNA samples of bin Laden’s family by order of the intelligence agency.
Then CIA Director Leon Panetta and then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had confirmed the doctor’s role in eliminating the terrorist, after which Afridi was arrested by Pakistani authorities. The fact that the United States held the operation in Pakistan resulted in a deterioration of bilateral ties.
In May 2011, Afridi was detained on treason charges for organizing a fake vaccination for the purpose of obtaining DNA samples from bin Laden’s family. Shortly thereafter, Pakistani authorities said that Afridi was suspected of having ties with Mangal Bagh, the leader of the Lashkar-e-Islam terrorist group. In 2012, Afridi was sentenced to 33 years in prison, though later his term was reduced to 23 years.
The United States had taken steps to release the doctor. During his electoral campaign, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump pledged to promptly settle the issue.