PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A Pakistani judicial official reduced on Saturday the 33-year jail sentence of a doctor alleged to have helped the U.S. track down Osama bin Laden to 23 years, one of his lawyers said.
Shakil Afridi was convicted in May 2012 by a tribal court in the northwest. According to his lawyer, the charges were related to allegations that he gave money and provided medical treatment to Islamic militants.
His lawyer, Qamar Nadeem, said judicial official Munir Azam dropped one of those charges: waging war against Pakistan. Afridi is widely believed to have been targeted by Pakistani authorities because of allegations that he ran a vaccination program to collect DNA and verify bin Laden's presence in the town of Abbottabad, although his conviction was not related to this accusation. U.S. commandos killed the al-Qaida chief in 2011.
Afridi through his lawyers has denied helping the CIA. U.S. lawmakers have confirmed he had a role in the hunt for Bin Laden, however, and exerted diplomatic pressure for his release. Azam's ruling in the northwestern city of Peshawar Saturday came in response to an application by Afridi's lawyer for a new trial. Azam rejected the request.
Afridi may still appeal further.