PESHAWAR: The brother of Dr Shakil Afridi, jailed in Pakistan for helping the CIA hunt for Osama bin Laden, called on Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Monday to intervene directly to allow a swift appeal.
Dr Afridi was found guilty of treason in a secretive tribal court last week and sentenced to 33 years in jail, but his family says the appeal process is being held up because the authorities have yet to release a copy of the conviction.
“I appeal on the chief justice to provide us security and help us exercise our right of appeal,” Jamil Afridi, Dr Afridi’s elder brother, told a news conference in Peshawar.
The 50-year-old teacher told AFP that Dr Afridi, who stood trial in Khyber tribal district and is in jail in Peshawar, was innocent, loyal and not a traitor.
“My brother is not a traitor, he is a patriot. The sentence is one sided. We will file an appeal against this illegal verdict.”
He accused the tribal administration of not releasing the court order.
“They are neither giving us the copy of the order needed to file an appeal, nor have they allowed us to meet Afridi in jail,” he said.
The former government surgeon ran a fake vaccination programme designed to collect bin Laden family DNA from the compound in the town of Abbottabad, where the al Qaeda leader was shot dead in a US raid in May 2011.
After his sentencing, a furious Senate Appropriations Committee voted to cut US aid to Pakistan by a symbolic $33 million – $1 million for each year of jail time.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the sentence was “unjust and unwarranted”, saying Dr Afridi was “instrumental in taking down one of the world’s most-wanted murderers”.
On Thursday, jail officials told AFP that Dr Afridi was weak, depressed and suffering from a bad stomach. He had been examined twice by doctors and prescribed medicine, they said.
But local government spokesman insisted Monday that the prisoner’s health was “alright”.