Charity staff expelled in row over Bin Laden hit
Save The Children staff are to be expelled by Pakistan in a decision said to be linked to Islamabad’s suspicions that the charity helped US spies hunt down Osama bin Laden.
The interior ministry had told the aid group that its six foreign employees had to leave Pakistan within two weeks, said Ghulam Qadri, the group’s director for programme planning and communications.
The ministry gave no reason for the decision, he said.
Save The Children and other aid groups have come under suspicion because of media reports they had come into contact with a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, who helped the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) hunt down the al-Qaeda terrorist leader.
“The allegations that have appeared in the media that Afridi worked with Save The Children and that Afridi was introduced to CIA by our staff, there is no truth to these allegations and no concrete evidence to support them,” said Mr Qadri.
Bin Laden was killed in May last year when US special forces raided his hideout in the northern Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad. Pakistan objected to the secret US raid as a violation of its sovereignty.
Mr Afridi was arrested soon after Bin Laden was killed. Mr Afridi ran a vaccination campaign in Abbottabad and used cheek swabs to try to gather DNA from Bin Laden’s children, who were staying with him in his hideout, one former Pakistani security official familiar with the case said this year. It was unclear whether the CIA used the swabs to determine if the children were those of the al-Qaeda chief.
After his arrest, Mr Afridi was vilified by many Pakistanis for what they saw as his treason for helping the Americans.
He was sentenced to 33 years in jail this year.
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