Fox controversy: ISI, officials, lawyers deny Shakil Afridi was interviewed

Published: September 12, 2012

Stress access to imprisoned doctor is impossible without knowledge of high authorities. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD / PESHAWAR: 

A day after US television channel Fox News startlingly aired what it claimed was an interview with Dr Shakil Afridi – the man who helped the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) hunt down Osama Bin Laden, – the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government, prison officials and Afridi’s attorneys all rubbished the possibility of such an interview.

Fox News claimed that its correspondent had conducted the interview in Peshawar Central Jail, and quoted Dr Afridi as saying that he suffered “brutal interrogation and torture” by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) when arrested. According to Fox, Afridi accused the ISI of funding militants, regarding the US as its “worst enemy”, while it accused Pakistan of cooperating with the US only to extract money, amongst numerous other allegations.

Fox News only aired the transcript of the purported exclusive, but did not indicate whether it was a video or audio interview. It also does not say how its reporter managed to enter the jail or meet Dr Afridi.

On Tuesday, the interview was categorically denied by officials at Peshawar Central Jail and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa home and tribal affairs department and ruled out any possibility of interviewing Dr Afridi inside the jail. “Dr Afridi is beyond the access of media and the news published, whether audio or video, is ambiguous and false as no one can meet [him] without approval of the provincial government and jail authorities,” said a statement issued by the Peshawar Central Jail.

The statement read that the K-P government regretted the story published by Fox News since only family members had been allowed to meet Afridi once a month at an office of the deputy superintendent jail. The home department’s Section Officer (Media) Qamar Ali also told The Express Tribune that Afridi had been under strict security, adding that only his family members, after approval of the provincial government, were allowed to meet him once a month.

“The news is completely vague and untrue,” said Ali.

Afridi’s 18-member defence counsel has also denied the interview, terming it baseless and fallacious.

Samiullah Afridi, counsel for Afridi, told The Express Tribune that “after establishing contact with Dr Afridi … we his lawyers, on behalf of Dr Afridi and his family, completely deny the report released by Fox News, terming it baseless and merely a publicity stunt. Dr Afridi is standing firm on his stance that he never aided the CIA in any covert operation in Pakistan.”

He added that it was impossible for anyone other than his lawyer and relatives to meet Dr Afridi for an interview inside the prison, saying Afridi’s security is directly monitored by the ISI itself. “Others cannot even think about contacting Dr Afridi,” said Samiullah, adding that neither could could anyone call him as mobile networks of all the cellular companies are jammed inside prisons.

Samiullah believed that the interview was a ploy to pressurise Pakistan.

“Just look at the timing: A US senator stands up in favor of Afridi and demands the US senate to stop aiding Pakistan, and on the same day an American news channel airs the interview,” Samiullah said adding that it could be a plot to kill Afridi by fuelling hardened prisoners.

He went on to add that there was now a heightened security threat to Afridi’s life. “There are hardcore militants inside the prison and once they come to know that Afridi has been interviewed by an American news channel, they would never leave him alive.”.

ISI denial

Meanwhile, ISI officials requesting anonymity told The Express Tribune that the interview by Fox News was concocted and baseless, adding that the main purpose of this report was to malign the ISI and damage Pak-US relations. The officials confirmed that no one was allowed to see Dr Afridi without prior approval from higher intelligence authorities and only Afridi’s lawyers see him when there is a case hearing.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 12th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (30)

  • xyz
    Sep 12, 2012 - 10:44AM

    Why did ET fan the interview so much if it was a hoax?

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  • Anoni
    Sep 12, 2012 - 10:47AM

    Dirty journalism . Very bad fox news.. very bad.

    I wouldn’t be surprise if they come up with video. but a clarification is need by all involved.

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  • Adnan
    Sep 12, 2012 - 10:51AM

    No wonder, yet another crap by Fox and we all know that.

    and not surprising it’s by a “Fox”

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  • Owais Ehsan
    Sep 12, 2012 - 11:06AM

    Fox News ? what do you expect ! Truth? Nah

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  • Rehan
    Sep 12, 2012 - 11:34AM

    That news article/interview by Fox News was a total canard. That’s what Fox News does, it’s an organization that is the mother lode of lies. That article was an indirect attack on the commonsense of all Pakistanis.

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  • Dr. Doolittle
    Sep 12, 2012 - 11:41AM

    What can u expect from a news channel that blows its own trumpet by calling itself “Fair and Balanced”. This channle is even ridiculed by the US media itself for this self glorification.

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  • Rana
    Sep 12, 2012 - 12:02PM

    The occurrence can’t be ruled out completely, when our securities responsible are least reliable up to top levels, there is an adequate probability of inside job to facilitate the Fox News against some good offers!!!

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  • BlackJack
    Sep 12, 2012 - 12:11PM

    @xyz:
    I must say that I was surprised to hear of the interview given the high level of security and restrictions in access that are likely to be in vogue. However, it was quoted in BBC and many other publications, not just in ET.

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  • Nand
    Sep 12, 2012 - 12:21PM

    “The officials confirmed that no one was allowed to see Dr Afridi without prior approval from higher intelligence authorities.”
    Does this also implies OBL presence in Abbottabad?

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  • shakil
    Sep 12, 2012 - 1:13PM

    “only family members had been allowed to meet Afridi once a month” hmmmm….i wonder how Fox got access…!

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  • mr. righty rightist
    Sep 12, 2012 - 2:18PM

    Looks like Pakistanis trust their security agencies more than they trust foreign media.Recommend

  • mohsin
    Sep 12, 2012 - 3:35PM

    american government use its electronic and paper media very cleverly to pressurise pakistan and pakistani media naively becomes part of it.

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  • Sep 12, 2012 - 4:11PM

    Fox, ET, sky, CNN, BBC directly controlled from Pentagon

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  • Lala Gee
    Sep 12, 2012 - 4:17PM

    “while it accused Pakistan of cooperating with the US only to extract money, amongst numerous other allegations”

    And he was working for CIA unconditionally without knowing his target because his father was an American? Such an unscrupulous traitor.

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  • Cautious
    Sep 12, 2012 - 4:54PM

    It’s my understanding that the interview was conducted by cell phone and the attorney in question had already acknowledged that it was possible that a cell phone was smuggled to his client.

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  • Nafees N.
    Sep 12, 2012 - 5:06PM

    Fox, as always, very foxy!

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  • sohaib
    Sep 12, 2012 - 5:53PM

    It was CIA implant. Recommend

  • joe
    Sep 12, 2012 - 6:09PM

    western media think they are above the law in Pakistan BBC was quick to show entire world where OBL wifes where held in house arrest, BBC is always quick to interview anti pakistan politicians and people. If some Pakistani Journalist smuggled a electronic device into Gitmo, he or she would not be alive today. but in pakistan the liberal media celebrate western journalist

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  • Pakistani Pashtoon
    Sep 12, 2012 - 7:51PM

    well if FOX news hasnt interviewd afridi then somebody should go and interview him .. whats the problem in there

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  • T Shah
    Sep 12, 2012 - 8:17PM

    Everyone knows its Faux News…..its Tabloid journalism, but they hit a pretty new low with this concocted and fabricated interview that even the mans family and attorney deny ever took place.

    I think Fox tried to get Afridi in trouble, so some other prisoners would kill him, and that would being more disrepute to Pakistan.

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  • Pakboy
    Sep 13, 2012 - 5:18AM

    Fox News has value in america and here ET and the indians takes it as word of God

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  • Tariq
    Sep 13, 2012 - 5:33AM

    Another conspiracy

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  • Turkoodu
    Sep 13, 2012 - 9:34AM

    Fair and balanced indeed

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  • Noor
    Sep 13, 2012 - 2:04PM

    I skipped FOX channel from my TV 8 years ago, when I found its contradictory & confused news, focused on mis-guiding Americans & others worldwide.

    Its been quite a while since I ditched Pakistani & BBC type channels as well.

    It needs much of effort to explore the actual news, that has real relevance or importance.

    Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Sep 13, 2012 - 11:56PM

    @Dr. Doolittle:
    Fox news is ridiculed by the (left leaning) media BECAUSE it is the highest rated cable news network, with more viewers than any other cable network!

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  • numbersnumbers
    Sep 13, 2012 - 11:59PM

    @Pakistan politics:
    Unlike Pakistani channels which are directly controlled by WHAT AGENCY?

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  • usman ahmed
    Sep 14, 2012 - 10:25PM

    That reflects bad on fox news and its poor standards, dr shakeel is a traiter according to the law of land he will be delt accordingly. whats the issue i guess pakistan is not following us law in their country.

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  • T Shah
    Sep 15, 2012 - 2:56AM

    @Cautious:
    The attorney has no idea and cell phones are jammed inside that prison.

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  • T Shah
    Sep 15, 2012 - 2:59AM

    The US should release all US citizens working as Israeli spies caught spying on the US…like Jonathan Pollard, Israel is after all the top ally of the US according to American senators.

    When you do that, we will consider releasing this spy as well.

    It does not matter what he did, the first thing he did is spy for a foreign agency, friendly or not.

    Recommend

  • T Shah
    Sep 15, 2012 - 3:02AM

    @numbersnumbers:
    it has high ratings because it caters to the lowest common denominator, it appeals to people because it lies, and has a very shock appeal, exactly why people listen to shock jocks, they want to know what spicy thing Fox is going to say next, what incredible, fantastical news alert will pop up, the people who believe in Fox are the republicans, and they shun the honest media outlets, accusing them of being left wing, as if telling the truth was a crime.

    Fox news says what it knows the republicans want to hear, that is bashing dems, minorities and Muslims.

    Recommend

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