By Jim Kouri
The man who helped U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six locate and kill al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is facing treason charges in a Pakistani court.
Dr. Shikal Afridi was accused of participating in a CIA-run operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where Bin Laden was killed by a U.S. special forces unit.
A panel of Pakistani officials ruled that Dr. Afrida should be tried for treason.
U.S. Defense Secretary Panetta told CBS TV’s 60 Minutes, during a taped interview, that this arrest is “a real mistake” and that Dr Afridi provided “very helpful” information for the raid. The show will air on Sunday night in the U.S.
Dr. Afrida, a confidential informant, was arrested shortly after the operation, carried out by US special forces in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad on May 1, 2011.
The Pakistani government embarrassed and angered by the raid, and condemned it as a violation of Pakistani national sovereignty.
During the month of October 2011, a Pakistan set up a special commission to investigate the bin Laden killing and advised top officials that Dr. Afridi should be tried for high treason, a crime punishable by death.
The Obama White House, the Pentagon and the U.S. State Department have been calling for Dr. Afridi to be freed and allowed to live in the U.S.
Secretary of Defense Panetta also repeated US claims that someone in authority in Pakistan “had to have known where Bin Laden was hiding at the compound since it was located near the country’s military academy.
“I personally have always felt that somebody must have had some sense of what was happening at this compound,” Panetta told 60 Minutes.
“Don’t forget, this compound had 18-foot walls. It was the largest compound in the area,” he added.