- Associated Press - Saturday, January 28, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is acknowledging publicly for the first time that a Pakistani doctor provided key information to the U.S. in advance of the successful Navy SEAL assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound last May.

Panetta told CBS’s “60 Minutes,” in a profile to be broadcast on Sunday, that Shakil Afridi helped provide intelligence for the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Afridi ran a vaccination program for the CIA to collect DNA and verify bin Laden’s presence in the compound. He has since been charged by Pakistan with treason. Panetta said he is “very concerned” for the doctor.

Panetta also told “60 Minutes” that he remains convinced that someone in the Pakistani government “must have had some sense” that a person of interest was in the compound. He added that he has no proof that Pakistan knew it was bin Laden.

The Pakistani government had hoped to resolve the Afridi matter quietly, once media attention died down, perhaps releasing him to U.S. custody, according to two Pakistani officials. They requested anonymity because the investigation into charges the doctor behaved treasonously was ongoing.

___

AP Intelligence Writer Kimberly Dozier contributed to this report.

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