US seeks Pakistan's clarification on Dr Afridi's sentence

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Washington, May 31: The US has sought clarification from Pakistan on reports that Dr Shakil Afridi, who helped it track Osama bin Laden, was given a harsh sentence of 33-years because of his links with militants and not for his involvement with the CIA. "We are actually seeking clarity on those latest reports. I'm aware of what you're talking about, so we've raised those with the government of Pakistan," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters on Wednesday.

It had previously been reported by Pakistan's state-run APP news agency that Dr Afridi had been convicted for helping the CIA track bin Laden by running a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad. Pakistani media reported on Wednesday that Afridi was sentenced by a tribal court on charges of links with the banned Lashkar-e-Islam militant group and its chief Mangal Bagh Afridi and not for his involvement with the CIA.

"It seems to contrast previous reports about his conviction and the basis of it, so we're trying to get clarity," Toner said when asked about the new reason being given by Pakistan for sentencing Afridi. "I mean other than raising it very publicly as we've done via Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and raising it consistently in our meetings with Pakistani government officials. It's unclear to me what else we could do for his case, but we certainly take it very seriously. The secretary's very clear in her remarks saying there's not any basis for holding Afridi," Toner said.

Meanwhile, a senior official said that he does not agree with the argument that Afridi had links with certain terrorist groups. "We do not believe in this new story," the official said, adding that the State Department has sought clarification from Pakistan on this confusing reports.

PTI

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