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17 suspected of helping track bin Laden get their jobs back

By Shaan Khan, CNN
March 14, 2013 -- Updated 1755 GMT (0155 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Justices at Peshawar high court accept petition from 17 women to have their jobs restored
  • They were fired after allegations that they were involved in a fake vaccination campaign
  • The health workers said they were just following the doctor's orders
  • The campaign aimed to confirm bin Laden's presence at an Abbottabad compound

(CNN) -- Seventeen Pakistani women suspected of helping the CIA track down Osama bin Laden in Pakistan were given their jobs back Thursday, their lawyer told CNN.

The women appeared in the city of Peshawar's high court, where Justices Yayha Afridi and Seth Waqar Ahmed accepted their petition to have their jobs restored, Sajid Ali Awan, the women's counsel, told CNN.

"The court has also directed the Department of Health to act lawfully and take lawful measures after accepting our petition, which is the simple restoration of the employees as their termination without a shown cause notice was against the law," Awan said.

The women were fired from their jobs after allegations that they were involved in Dr. Shakeel Afridi's fake vaccination campaign, which helped the CIA collect DNA samples from residents of bin Laden's compound in the city of Abbottabad. The samples aimed to verify the al Qaeda leader's presence there.

Awan said the secretary of health for Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province fired the health workers in February 2012. However, they pleaded not guilty, saying they were not aware of Dr. Afridi's intentions and were simply following his orders.

Dr. Afridi is serving a 33-year sentence in a Peshawar jail, accused of having links to militant elements in Khyber Agency, though many believe he has been penalized for acting as a CIA front man in the fake vaccination campaign.

Bin Laden was killed in a U.S. raid on his Abbottabad compound in May of 2011.

Journalist Zaher Shah Sherazi contributed to this report.

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