Skip to main content

New trial ordered for Pakistani doctor linked to CIA's bin Laden search

By Zahir Shah Sherazi and Aliza Kassim, CNN
August 29, 2013 -- Updated 1534 GMT (2334 HKT)
This photograph from 2010, shows Pakistani surgeon Shakeel Afridi, who was working for CIA to help find Osama bin Laden.
This photograph from 2010, shows Pakistani surgeon Shakeel Afridi, who was working for CIA to help find Osama bin Laden.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dr. Shakil Afridi's conviction is overturned; he will be held while awaiting retrial
  • Afridi was sentenced in 2012 to 33 years in prison
  • He's accused of working with the CIA, using a vaccination program in hunt for bin Laden
  • Hillary Clinton had said Afridi was instrumental in taking bin Laden down

(CNN) -- A Pakistani judicial commissioner has overturned the conviction of a doctor who is accused of helping the United States find Osama bin Laden, and has ordered a new trial, the official's office said Thursday.

Dr. Shakil Afridi will remain in prison until the new trial is held, according to the office of Sahibzada Mohammad Anees, the Peshawar judicial commissioner who overturned the conviction.

Afridi was sentenced in 2012 to 33 years in prison after a tribal court convicted him of, among other things, running a fake vaccination trial.

Pakistani authorities accused Afridi of working with the CIA to set up a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad to try verify bin Laden's whereabouts.

U.S. special forces killed the al Qaeda leader at an Abbottabad compound in May 2011.

Afridi had appealed the conviction. Information on why Anees granted the appeal wasn't immediately available.

Afridi's attorney, Samiullah Afridi, said Thursday he expects the retrial to begin within a month. The doctor's family has had no contact with him for nine months, the lawyer said.

The vaccination effort, according to allegations in a report filed with a Pakistani appeals court, was meant to collect bin Laden's DNA so the CIA could compare it with samples of bin Laden family DNA it already had, but no one at his Abbottabad compound agreed to be vaccinated.

The report alleged that Afridi admitted receiving $75,800 from handlers for the vaccination effort.

In 2012, senior U.S. officials told CNN that Afridi worked with the United States prior to the bin Laden raid, but was never asked to spy on Pakistan and was asked only to help locate al Qaeda terrorists posing a threat to both Pakistan and the United States.

After Afridi's conviction, then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called for his release. Clinton said Afridi "was instrumental in taking down one of the world's most notorious murderers."

CNN's Reza Sayah, Elise Labott and Jason Hanna, and journalist Annabel Symington contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 12, 2014 -- Updated 0008 GMT (0808 HKT)
Tichleman 1
A makeup artist, writer and model who loves monkeys and struggles with demons.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
Lionel Messi's ability is not in question -- but will the World Cup final allow him to emerge from another footballing legend's shadow?
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1029 GMT (1829 HKT)
Why are Iraqi politicians dragging their feet while ISIS militants fortify their foothold across the country?
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1332 GMT (2132 HKT)
An elephant, who was chained for 50 years, cries tears of joy after being freed in India. CNN's Sumnima Udas reports.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 0732 GMT (1532 HKT)
Beneath a dusty town in northeastern Pakistan, CNN explores a cold labyrinth of hidden tunnels that was once a safe haven for militants.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 2249 GMT (0649 HKT)
CNN's Ravi Agrawal asks whether Narendra Modi can harness the country's potential to finally deliver growth.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 0444 GMT (1244 HKT)
CNN's Ben Wedeman visits the Yazji family and finds out what it's like living life in the middle of conflict.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
Israel has deployed its Iron Dome defense system to halt incoming rockets. Here's how it works.
Even those who aren't in the line of fire feel the effects of the chaos that has engulfed Iraq since extremists attacked.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
People walk with their luggage at the Maiquetia international airport that serves Caracas on July 3, 2014. A survey by pollster Datanalisis revealed that 25% of the population surveyed (end of May) has at least one family member or friend who has emigrated from the country. AFP PHOTO/Leo RAMIREZ (Photo credit should read LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Plane passengers are used to paying additional fees, but one airport in Venezuela is now charging for the ultimate hidden extra -- air.
ADVERTISEMENT