Dr. Shakil Afridi’s family members and lawyer have told Arab News they are unaware of the present location of the 54-year-old doctor who played a pivotal role in the Central Intelligence Agency’s elaborate ruse to confirm Osama bin Laden’s presence in his Abbottabad compound in Pakistan’s northwestern region.
It ultimately led to the U.S. Navy SEAL operation on May 2, 2011, in which the Al-Qaeda leader was killed.
“I don’t know where my brother has been shifted,” said Jamil Afridi, Shakil’s brother, on Sunday. “All I know is that media reports suggest he’s been relocated from Peshawar Central Jail to Adiala,” a name commonly used for the central prison in Rawalpindi, the garrison city bordering Islamabad.
Qamar Nadeem Afridi, the lead lawyer and cousin of the jailed doctor, also said that he didn’t know where his client had been moved to, though he claimed he had witnessed a large buildup of security around Peshawar’s prison facility on Friday, before the revelation that Shakil had been shifted from the jail where some of the most notorious criminals and terrorists have also been incarcerated.
“For a moment, I thought that martial law had been imposed in the area,” said the lawyer, describing the unprecedented security cordon.
“No one was allowed to travel on routes that led to the prison, and security was beefed up across the city. Later in the evening, I learned through the media that my client had been relocated.”
He said that the legal fraternity was in a state of euphoria since its members assumed that the movement would lead to the release of the doctor.
“I can’t say for certain (that he will be released). I can only hope that the federal government gives clemency to my client in response to his good behavior and apologies, reducing his 23-year prison sentence and releasing him.”
Dr. Afridi was shifted from Peshawar Central Jail on Friday. Media reports suggest the authorities took the decision due to “security concerns.” However, details behind the sudden relocation of the high-value prisoner, who has been behind bars for seven years, are not clear.
The family and lawyer of the doctor in prison have made several attempts to reach out to prison officials for information on Dr. Afridi, but they say they avoid their calls. “We’re being kept in the dark,” said the elder brother of the doctor, adding he was unsure if the doctor would be released any time soon.
It may be recalled that Dr. Afridi was nabbed by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies 20 days after the Bin Laden raid. His phone number was discovered on a cellphone at the Al-Qaeda chief’s residential compound.
The Pakistani authorities held him on charges of anti-state activities, making him a bone of contention between Islamabad and Washington, where many people see him as a hero. Also, President Donald Trump during his election campaign had vowed to have Afridi released.
“We can only guess and hope for the best in Dr. Shakil’s case,” said Nadeem cautiously.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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