US Defense Chief Concerned by Pakistan’s Treatment of Doctor

Posted January 28th, 2012 at 1:40 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says he is concerned about a Pakistani doctor who helped the U.S. find al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Panetta told the CBS-TV program 60 Minutes, Shikal Afridi provided key intelligence that was “very helpful” in the successful May 2 Navy SEALs raid on bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad. Panetta's interview will be broadcast Sunday.

Pakistan has arrested Afridi, charging him with treason. The doctor, who was working for U.S. intelligence, ran a vaccination program to collect DNA to verify bin Laden's presence in the compound.

Panetta says Pakistan's arrest of “somebody who was helping to go after terrorism” is a “real mistake.”

The U.S. defense secretary says he believes someone in authority in Pakistan knew where bin Laden was hiding. Panetta said there were intelligence reports of Pakistani military helicopters passing over bin Laden's compound, which was the largest one in the area and was surrounded by five-and-a-half meter walls.

Panetta acknowledged he does not have any hard evidence Pakistan's government knew where bin Laden was, but his “personal view” is that “somebody, somewhere probably had that knowledge.”