Sen. Paul Discusses Postponement of bin Laden Informant Appellate Trial
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Rand Paul today took to the Senate floor to discuss the imprisonment of Dr. Shakil Afridi, and his appellate hearing in Pakistan that has been postponed until Aug. 30. Sen. Paul also announced his intention to demand a vote on his bipartisan legislation to end aid to Pakistan closer to that date.
Dr. Afridi, a key figure in finding Osama bin Laden, is being held in a Pakistani prison on a 33-year sentence. According to news sources, his appellate hearing last week was postponed and local officials fear for Dr. Afridi's safety based on reports of serious threats from militant inmates in the same facility.
Last month, Sen. Paul sent a letter to President Obama urging a delay in the release U.S. financial aid to the government of Pakistan, and to hold all aid until Dr. Afridi is released. He also has introduced legislation, S.3269, which calls for the same action.
Below is video and transcript of Sen. Paul's floor speech this afternoon:
Dr. Shakil Afridi is a physician in Pakistan. He has been put in prison for the rest of his life for the crime, basically, for helping the United States get [Osama] bin Laden.
I think it's a travesty of justice that we are holding this man or Pakistan is holding this man for the crime of helping America, and I think we shouldn't tolerate it.
We send Pakistan $2 billion a year, and recently instead of withholding that, President Obama has given them an additional billion dollars. It is exactly the wrong thing to do. I have a bill that will withhold all further aid - all further foreign aid to Pakistan - unless this doctor is released.
There are reports now that his life has been threatened. There are reports coming from the information minister in the province where he is being held, that his life has been threatened by fellow inmates and throughout the community.
My concern is that Dr. Afridi may well be killed before he comes to trial. He was scheduled for an appeal on July 19. They have rescheduled this and it will be Aug. 30.
I have a bill and I have the [signatures] necessary to demand a vote in the Senate, no matter what the leadership wants, we will have a vote on ending all of Pakistan's aid, if this political prisoner, Dr. Shakil Afridi, is not released.
We will have this vote. I threatened to have the vote this week, but I'm going to delay it for one month to see if the appeal works, to see if he is still safe in one month.
But I hate to think of what might happen to him while we're waiting here and that we haven't used every bit of the leverage of this money that we give to Pakistan. It's our money. It's your money.
We shouldn't be sending it to a country that disrespects us. If Pakistan wants to be our ally, they should act like it. If Pakistan wants to work with us in the 'War on Terrorism,' they should act like it.
Imprisoning the man that helped us get one of the world's worst mass murders is not a way to encourage cooperation between our countries. This episode of imprisoning this man is driving a wedge between America and Pakistan.
So if Pakistan wants to help us, good. Can we cooperate with them? Yes. But we should not continue to send good money after bad while they are imprisoning this man.
This doctor deserves our respect.I have also introduced legislation that would allow him to come to the United States if there is a threat to his safety in Pakistan as a reward for his helping us get bin Laden.
This will happen either in early September or late August, depending on what happens with his appeal. I hope some common sense will intervene and they will let him go, but at the very least Americans need to know that Pakistan needs to cooperate with us, Pakistan needs to help this man, and that we all should be proud of what he did to help us get Bin Laden.
I will do everything possible, everything I have within my limits to get this vote to occur, and this will happen within the next month when his trial comes forward on Aug. 30. Thank you Mr. President and I yield back my time.