London, May 20: The family of a London-based former Pakistani general, who has been named in the media as the man who led the CIA to Osama bin Laden's hideout in the garrison city of Abbottabad, have denied his involvement.
Retired Brigadier Usman Khalid, now a British citizen, was named as the informant whose tip-off led to the assassination of the world's most wanted man in 2011.
His family have told 'The Daily Telegraph' of their anger that their father who died a year ago after living in London for 35 years has been publicly humiliated as the source of the leak.
The retired brigadier claimed political asylum in Britain after resigning from a 25-year career in the army in protest at the execution in 1979 of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the former prime minister and father of Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007.
Brigadier Khalid died last year of cancer at the age of 79. Khalid's son Abid said: "My father was an honourable and patriotic man. It simply doesn't make sense. At the time that this was supposed to have happened, he was suffering from cancer and in and out of hospital."
"My father hadn't visited the USA since 1976 and had lived in the UK since 1979 so there was no question of him or his family getting American citizenship. He had no contact with the CIA and knew nothing about Osama bin Laden, other than what he read in the newspapers, just like everyone else.
"He was politically very vocal, so he was an easy target." Speculation about the identity of the unnamed informant has been rife following the publication of an article by Seymour Hersh, a Pulitzer Prize-winning US journalist, in the 'London Review of Books' earlier this month.
The White House and CIA have always maintained that their own intelligence agents pieced together the information that led to the Navy Seals raid.
Hersh claimed that Osama was being held prisoner by the Pakistani intelligence agency - the ISI - in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad. He claimed that an unnamed senior officer in the Pakistani army had provided details of the secret hideout in exchange for a substantial amount of a USD 25 million bounty.
According to Hersh's account, the informer was supposed to also have been rewarded with US citizenship and to be alive and well in America. The unnamed officer has now been identified in the Pakistani media, citing military sources, as Brigadier Khalid.
Critics have accused Hersh, the investigative journalist who uncovered the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War and the Abu Ghraib Iraqi prison scandal, of allowing himself to be used to vent conspiracy theories.
The White House described his claims that Pakistan cooperated with the US to kill the former Al Qaeda leader as "inaccurate and baseless".