- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 9, 2002

A court in Pakistan ordered the government yesterday not to extradite a Pakistani physician who is believed to have treated Osama bin Laden shortly after he fled the battle of Tora Bora in Afghanistan a year ago.
Pakistani newspapers reported this week that the United States asked Pakistan to extradite Dr. Amir Aziz, 46, for interrogation.
The provincial high court in Lahore gave the government until Tuesday to explain the detention of Dr. Aziz, who has been in police custody for more than two weeks without charges being filed. The authorities say he is being interrogated by the intelligence services.
The court ruling came in response to a petition filed by Dr. Aziz's mother challenging his detention and requesting that he not be extradited.
Quoting senior Pakistani security officials, local newspapers reported that Dr. Aziz has also been interrogated by FBI agents.
Justice Tassaduq Husain Jilani of the Lahore High Court had earlier directed the federal and provincial governments to submit detailed reports about the arrest and whereabouts of Dr. Aziz.
Earlier reports said that Dr. Aziz maintained close links with al Qaeda operatives and had treated some of them, including bin Laden.
His attorneys told the court that Dr. Aziz has been providing free medical facilities to people in Lahore "without asking them their caste, creed or race."
His attorney, Ehsan Wyne, said Dr. Aziz had been arrested under U.S. pressure. "The only crime he had committed was that he was serving the ailing humanity on the call of his profession," Mr. Wyne said.
His lawyers requested the court to order Dr. Aziz's release because, they said, Pakistani authorities had not followed proper legal procedures.
Dr. Aziz, an orthopedic surgeon educated in Britain, opened a practice in Lahore in the 1980s, where he became well known for treating the Pakistani cricket team and for supporting the hospital built by the former cricket captain turned politician, Imran Khan.
Meanwhile, an anti-terrorism court in Karachi formally charged five Islamic militants yesterday with plotting the suicide bomb attack outside the U.S. consulate, lawyers said.
Judge Aale Maqbool Rizvi, of a special anti-terrorism court, read out charges of murder, attempted murder, abetment, use of explosives and terrorism against the accused. The charges carry the death penalty.
The June 14 attack, carried out by a suicide bomber in an explosives-packed vehicle, killed 12 Pakistanis.
Police say the five suspects belong to the Harkat ul Mujahedin al-Alaami, a militant group formed after the collapse of the Taliban regime in neighboring Afghanistan. Some of the members of the group have been trained in Afghanistan during the Taliban reign, police said.

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