The Foreign Office (FO) on Thursday denied rumours that the sudden decision to move Dr Shakeel Afridi, who was imprisoned for his alleged links to a banned militant group, from Peshawar to Adiala jail was part of a possible deal with the United States government.
Addressing a weekly briefing, FO spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal insisted that government authorities were not planning to swap Afridi for Aafia Siddiqui — who is currently serving a sentence in a US jail for trying to kill US agents and military officers in Afghanistan — or former Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani who resides in the US and is the prime suspect in the Memogate scandal that surfaced in 2011.
Dr Faisal turned down questions about media reports claiming that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had tried to stage a jailbreak in Peshawar in order to rescue Afridi, saying he had no information about the matter since it concerned the interior ministry.
Afridi, a former senior surgeon believed to be in his mid-50s, was arrested eight years ago after it emerged that he had passed on intelligence about former Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to the CIA.
He was accused of helping the CIA track down the Al Qaeda leader in Abbottabad. However, he was never tried on those charges.
It emerged in May 2012 that the doctor had been tried under the Frontier Crimes Regulation and sentenced to 33 years in prison after he was convicted of ties to militants, a charge he has always denied. The sentence was later reduced to 10 years by the FCR commissioner.
Last week, Afridi was airlifted by a helicopter from Peshawar jail amid tight security and was taken to Rawalpindi's Adiala jail.