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Brother of doctor who worked with CIA in bin Laden hunt seeks US protection

Mohammad Sajjad / AP

Jamil Afridi, right, brother of a Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi speaks at a news conference in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Monday.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – The brother of the Pakistani doctor imprisoned for helping the CIA to track Osama bin Laden says the family needs protection, and the U.S. government should provide it. 

Jamil Afridi, elder brother to Dr. Shakil Afridi, spoke to NBC News on Monday in Peshawar, after he and his lawyers addressed a group of journalists about his brother's case. 

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"My appeal to the U.S. government is that they give Dr. Shakil protection, and give us – his brothers and sisters – protection as well," said Afridi. "We have no protection here."

Dr. Shakil Afridi was arrested in the weeks after the May 2011 U.S. raid on the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The doctor ran a fake vaccination campaign for U.S. intelligence as part of an attempt to get inside the compound and confirm Bin Laden's location. Though those plans failed, U.S. officials have said Dr. Afridi's efforts did help lead them to bin Laden. 

Reuters TV / Reuters

Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi was jailed for 33 years.

Dr. Afridi was tried under a legal system known as the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), which applies only in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal areas. Trials are conducted by a local government official in consultation with tribal elders, and the accused are not allowed legal representation. Dr. Afridi was convicted on treason charges and sentenced to 33 years in prison. 

His brother dismissed the charges against Dr. Afridi as "false," saying he did nothing against Pakistan's national interest, and that "anything" could happen to him or his family now. 

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"For one whole year, we had no idea where he was – whether he was alive or dead," said Afridi. "Now they say he's in Central Jail, Peshawar, but we're not allowed to see him."

Dr. Afridi's conviction further complicated already tense relations between the U.S. and Pakistan. U.S. officials demanded his release, claiming his efforts helped to capture an enemy to both Pakistan and the U.S. But Pakistani officials have called Dr. Afridi's decision to work for a foreign intelligence agency a "serious offense." 

Muhammed Muheisen / AP

Images of daily life, political pursuits, religious rites and deadly violence.

U.S. officials say they expect to continue the conversation about Dr. Afridi with their Pakistani counterparts, but the list of unresolved issues between the two countries continues to grow.

Both sides are negotiating the re-opening of the overland NATO supply routes that run through Pakistan – shuttered since last November – and the Pakistan government also is calling  for a complete halt on all U.S. drone strikes within the country. In the last week alone, there have been four strikes carried out in the border region with Afghanistan. 

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