PTI | Last Modified - Feb 05, 2012, 09:02 PM IST
Washington: A group of Congressmen here has sought US citizenship for jailed Pakistani doctor Shakeel Afridi, who helped CIA track down killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden last year.
A Congressional legislation has been introduced in the US House of Representatives seeking the citizenship for the doctor, who is currently in a Pakistani jail for "treason".
"...Today I have introduced legislation to grant American citizenship to Dr Shakeel Afridi, the Pakistan medical doctor who risked his life to identify Osama Bin Laden and help US military forces bring him to justice," Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said yesterday.
If convicted, he could be executed, the lawmaker from California pointed out.
"My bill would grant him US citizenship and send a direct and powerful message to those in the Pakistani government and military who protected the mastermind of 9/11 for all those years and who are now seeking retribution on those who helped to execute Bin Laden," Rohrabacher said in the House of Representatives.
The Afridi citizenship bill has been endorsed by more than a dozen top Congressmen including Bill Posey, Ted Poe and Roscoe Bartlett.
The legislation came days after the Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, said that Afridi "was an individual who in fact helped provide intelligence that was very helpful" to the operation which killed bin Laden.
In an interview Panetta had said he is "very concerned" about his fate.
"This bill shows the world that America does not abandon its friends," Rohrabacher said.
Afridi was arrested from his home on May 22 last year after it was found out that he had helped the CIA in confirming bin Laden's location.
The doctor has been jailed for the past eight months and media reports state that his wife, an American citizen of Pakistani origin is currently missing and her whereabouts are unknown, Rohrabacher said.
Speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives, Congressman Ted Poe from Texas said that Afridi should be treated like a hero.
"Pakistan is now holding in custody a doctor that helped us get the No 1 terrorist in the world. The man should be treated like a hero. Instead he's locked up and called a traitor. This ought not to be," he said.
"Pakistan is no friend of ours. The sooner we realize that the better off we'll be. Until Pakistan becomes an ally, Americans should give no money to Pakistan. And that's just the way it is," Poe said.