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Senators protest conviction of doctor who helped find bin Laden

May 24, 2012|By Kim Geiger
  • Pakistani surgeon Shakeel Afridi was working with the CIA to help find Osama bin Laden.
Pakistani surgeon Shakeel Afridi was working with the CIA to help find Osama… (Mohammad Rauf / AFP/Getty…)

WASHINGTON -- In response to the conviction in a Pakistani court of the doctor who helped the United States track down Osama bin Laden, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to cut aid to Pakistanby by $1 million for every year of the doctor’s sentence.

Shakeel Afridi, the doctor who sought to collect DNA to help verify for the CIA that bin Laden was at a compound in Abbottabad, was convicted of high treason and sentenced to 33 years in prison.

The committee agreed by a vote of 30-0 to cut $33 million in aid to Pakistan, according to the Associated Press. It was a symbolic gesture that reflects growing frustration with the country, which is technically considered an ally to the United States.

The cut was pushed by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who called Pakistan a “schizophrenic ally” and said the U.S. “[doesn’t] need Pakistan double-dealing and not seeing the justice in bringing Osama bin Laden to an end."

The committee had already slashed Obama’s request for aid to Pakistan by 58% and threatened deeper cuts if the country failed to open supply routes to U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan closed those routes after a U.S. attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) insisted that Afridi was not a spy and said Pakistan appeared to have misconstrued the meaning of treason.

“This conviction says to me that al Qaeda is viewed by the court to be Pakistan," Feinstein said.

kim.geiger@latimes.com

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