Alleged CIA operator goes on hunger strike in Peshawar jail
Alleged CIA operator Dr Shakil Afridi has reportedly gone on a hunger strike at the Central Jail Peshawar in what his lawyers and family members say is a 'protest against the jail administration’s ill-treatment.’ Afridi, through a fake vaccination campaign, was initially said to have provided a lead for the US Navy Seals' operation in which the al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad. Afridi was arrested for his alleged links to the CIA, but was then given a 33-year jail sentence on another charge, this time for having links to the banned religious outfit Lashkar-i-Islam. The decision from the appellate court is expected on May 3 as his counsels have completed the arguments in the case and are awaiting the judgment. Afridi’s brother Jamil Afridi on Saturday said that the authorities had not allowed them to meet the prisoner, and since August 2012, they had no information about him. “He needs medial check-ups too but the jail authorities are not willing to listen and not providing him the treatment as well as medicine,” Jamil said, adding, “he is on hunger strike as he is not treated well in there.” Afridi’s counsel Samiullah Afridi told Dawn that for the last six months no one, even him, had been allowed to meet the doctor. "It is against the rights of a prisoner. We don’t know for certain what happened but family sources and insiders are saying that he is now on a hunger strike," he said. “Denying a prisoner the right to consultation and meeting with legal advisor and family is an injustice,” he added. “Perhaps it was the allegation that the doctor has given an interview to Fox News as well as the transportation of a camera and cellphone into the jail by some policemen that was made a pretext to deny him the meeting rights,” he remarked. To a query about the possible outcome of Afridi’s plea, Samiullah said, “We have put forth all the legal arguments and now its up to the court of Frontier Crimes Regulations Commissioner to decide. The decision is likely to be announced on May 3, and we don’t know what it would be, but legally we are on stronger side on the verdict.” About his arrest and conviction, the counsel said that it was suspicious how Afridi was arrested for his alleged support in the Osama bin Laden operation but had later convicted him on another charge within the day on May 23, 2012, without any trial which has no legal justification. Samiullah added that the verdict announced by the trial court is also unjustified as the Assitant Political Agent’s authority is equivalent to that of a magistrate and he could only award a degree in any criminal case for just three years. But in this case, Afridi had been awarded 33 year imprisonment and that too without a trial.