FOX News claim to have interviewed Dr. Shakeel Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA in their search for the most wanted man and Al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden. The covert search done by Dr. Shakil led to the eventual death of the Al Qaeda leader at the hands of the US Navy SEALS. Dr. Afridi, however was not lucky enough to escape Pakistan. He was arrested from near the Torkham border while trying to escape the country days after the raid on 23 May 2012 that led to Osama Bin Laden’s death. He was subsequently sentenced to 33 years imprisonment for treason and having ties with local Islamist warlord.
Dominic Di-Natale of FOX News who claims to have conducted the interview said in a tweet that he carried it out during a 40-minute phone call.
He said he interviewed Dr. Afridi by phone from inside the Peshawar Central Jail – the maximum security prison where he’s kept. The interview transcript, as published by FOX News read more like a rant against ISI than anything else.ISI, Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence agency as well as the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa government have both denied FOX News’ statement saying getting in touch with Dr. Afridi inside the maximum security prison was impossible. They further added that he is only allowed one meeting a month and that too is with his family members only, adding that the meetings take place under the supervision of the deputy superintendent of the jail.
Dominic Di-Natale and FOX news remain firm that they did get in touch with Dr. Shakil Afridi and managed talking to him over the phone.
For clarification, I spoke directly w/Dr Afridi on Saturday. Not revealing methods used, to protect those who helped us secure the interview— Dominic Di-Natale (@domupdates) September 11, 2012
On his Twitter account Di-Natale asks anyone who wants to get in touch with him, should do so through the Fox News and even gives out a number.
I'm a wanted man... For all interview request on my Afridi story, pls contact Fox News' medial relations dept via +1-212-301-3700.— Dominic Di-Natale (@domupdates) September 11, 2012
However, at least for one journalist it was impossible to get in touch with him. Saqlain Imam, a Sr. Pakistani journalist from BBC world Service UK says no one responded to the number when he called.
@domupdates : I tried to reach you through the number you posted. But I never got any response from Fox Media relations dept.!— Saqlain Imam (@imam1) September 11, 2012
So, as we stand, it remains very doubtful whether any one actually did get to talk to Dr. Afridi or not.
It may very well be that someone bribed a prison official and sneaked in a phone to him. But it seems farfetched since Dr. Afridi is being kept in a high security prison where more than normal care is taken to ensure no such lapses ever occur, especially since the doctor is not an ordinary prisoner. It is highly unlikely that the doctor was able to give a lengthy interview without getting caught. Security around him is bound to be tighter and fool proof.
On the other hand, even if there was a loophole that FOX News made the most of, the biggest question is why would Dr. Afridi give such a self- incriminating interview that is bound to get him in more trouble?
Some of the things Dr. Afridi told FOX News apart from how badly he was treated by the ISI during his interrogation and how the ISI manipulates their detainees were:
“I tried to argue that America was Pakistan’s biggest supporter – billions and billions of dollars in aid, social and military assistance -- but all they said was, ‘These are our worst enemies. You helped our enemies.’”
“Without doubt, the Haqqanis are 100 percent supported by the ISI,’
Why give an interview that can tighten the noose around his neck?
Naseem Zehra, a senior and prominent journalist from Pakistan voiced just the same concerns:
@domupdates How do we establish its authenticity?Why would Dr Afridi give an interview that could make things worse for him?— Nasim Zehra(@NasimZehra) September 10, 2012
It seems there is a lot of murkiness surrounding this interview. Indeed 9/11 was a grand day to publish an interview like this one. Perhaps the temptation was too much to resist for the oft proven rapscallion channel?