A Pakistani doctor who helped the U.S. track down Osama bin Laden was convicted of high treason Wednesday and sentenced to 33 years in prison,
officials said, a verdict that is likely to further strain the country's relationship with Washington.Shakil Afridi ran a vaccination program for the CIA to collect DNA and verify bin Laden's presence at the compound in the town of Abbottabad where U.S. commandos killed the al-Qaida chief last May. The operation outraged Pakistani officials because they were not told about it beforehand.
Senior U.S. officials have called for Afridi to be released, saying his work served Pakistani and American interests. His conviction comes at a sensitive time because the U.S. is already frustrated by Pakistan's refusal to reopen NATO supply routes to Afghanistan. The supply routes were closed six months ago in retaliation for American airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
Afridi also was ordered to pay a fine of about $3,500 and will spend an additional three and half years in prison if he does not, said Nasir Khan, a government official in the Khyber tribal area, where the doctor was arrested and tried.