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May 04, 2012

Pakistan aid groups paying for U.S. spying

Save the Children is under restrictions from Pakistani government, because of its link to the raid resulting in the death of Osama bin Laden. (UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (UPI) -- The manager of a Pakistani aid group has accused the United States of recruiting spies from his agency, bringing it under fire from the Pakistani government.

David Wright, the country manager for Save the Children -- the largest international aid agency in Pakistan -- said the government in Islamabad has placed restrictions on the organization's staff and aid shipments because of its link to the raid resulting in the death of Osama bin Laden, The New York Times reported Thursday.

The CIA recruited Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor, to provide information leading to the bin Laden raid. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has tried negotiating for his release from Pakistani custody, but Pakistani officials -- troubled by the bin Laden raid on their soil -- view Afridi as a traitor whose actions could result in his execution, the Times said.

"We need to make an example of him," one senior intelligence official said.

Afridi has told Pakistani military interrogators he was introduced to the CIA through Save the Children.

Since then, Save the Children has been under fire from the Pakistani government, with senior managers forbidden to leave the country, staff members refused visas and aid supplies blocked for months, Wright said.

Wright argued Western countries should stop recruiting spies from aid agencies because of the backlash they receive.

"The CIA needs to answer for this," said Wright, who has not been able to leave Pakistan since his visa expired in October. "And they need to stop it."

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