Updated at 8:18 a.m. ET: PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- A Pakistani doctor accused of helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden was convicted of high treason and sentenced to 33 years in prison on Wednesday.
Shakil Afridi ran a vaccination program for the American intelligence agency to collect DNA and verify bin Laden's presence at the compound in the town of Abbottabad, where he was killed last May by U.S. commandos.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has previously called for Afridi to be released, saying his work served Pakistani and American interests.
Afridi was also ordered to pay a fine of about $3,500, Nasir Khan, a government official in the Khyber tribal area, told The Associated Press. If he doesn't pay, he will spend another three and half years in prison, Khan said.
His imprisonment is likely to anger ally Washington at a sensitive time, with both sides engaged in difficult talks over re-opening NATO supply routes to U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan.
U.S. officials had hoped Pakistan, a recipient of billions of dollars in American aid, would release Afridi. He was detained after the unilateral operation which killed bin Laden and strained ties with Islamabad.
In January, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a television interview that Afridi and his team had been key in finding bin Laden, describing him as helpful and insisting the doctor had not committed treason or harmed Pakistan
[chessdev] WTF!?!? Allegedly these guys are our allies in the "War on Terror". And they sure are quick to accept billions of dollars in American aid, including after several earthquakes... BUT we find Bin Laden virtually down the street from their government AND they're going out of their way to punish people who helped get Bin Laden???
My first thought for balancing the budget would be to withdraw some of the aid we're giving that government -- if they're going to take our money and still try to screw us over, then let's give it to OUR causes and let *those* screw us over instead...
Or is there some rationale that isnt as sinister as I'm thinking for why they would sentence this guy so harshly?