Report: Jailed doctor not on hunger strike

Nov. 30, 2012 at 1:46 AM
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PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor imprisoned after the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden, is not on a hunger strike, a prison official told the BBC.

Ayub Khan, assistant superintendant of the central jail in Peshawar, was quoted as saying he had seen Afridi eat in his cell, the BBC reported. The report said the brother of Afridi and other sources had said he went on a strike earlier this week to protest conditions at the jail where he is being held in solitary confinement as part of a 33-year sentence.

Afridi has said he was unaware of playing a role in the U.S. raid that led to the killing of the leader of al-Qaida in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad last year.

He was jailed for supporting a militant group, but the BBC said it is widely believed he was punished for helping the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency with the bin Laden raid. He was alleged to have used a fake vaccination effort to try to get DNA samples of the bin Laden family, the BBC said.

Afridi's brother was quoted as saying the doctor has not been allowed to see relatives ever since his phone interview with Fox News from his prison cell in September. However, prison official Khan told the BBC he went to Afridi's cell where he was seen eating lunch while sitting on a prayer mat.

In his Fox News interview, Afridi was quoted as saying he was not aware the U.S. intelligence agency was targeting bin Laden. He also said he had been kidnapped and tortured by Pakistani intelligence, the BBC report said.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, citing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said the United States has "believed all along that the prosecution and conviction of Dr. Afridi sends absolutely the wrong message, particularly with regard to our shared interest in taking down one of the world's most notorious terrorists."

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