Scores of Palestinians have been shot in their legs, and some face amputation

Mohammad al-Ajouri is a lanky teenagerwho loves to run, a medal-winning track star with ambitions to compete abroad.

But last month, while participating in a protest along Gaza’s border, he was struck by a bullet fired by an Israeli soldier. It penetrated his calf, shattering his leg before exiting the shin. Doctors tried to save the limb, but an infection soon spread. The leg had to be amputated.

During the past month of demonstrations along the border between Gaza and Israel, at least 17 Palestinians have suffered gunshot wounds that ultimately cost them their legs, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza.

In at least three of the cases, Israeli authorities rejected the transfer of wounded Gazans to the West Bank, where they could receive medical care that might have saved their limbs, according to lawyers and one of the patients’ families.

Mohammad al-Ajouri, 17, stands on crutches April 18 outside his family home in the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. Ajouris leg was struck by an Israeli soldiers bullet amid recent demonstrations along the Gaza border. (Wissam Nassar for The Washington Post)

Since the protests began, Israeli troops have killed 43 Palestinians and wounded more than 3,500 with live ammunition, rubber bullets or shrapnel, the Health Ministry said. Of those, about 2,200 have suffered injuries to the legs.

Israeli officials say the protests along the border fence are violent and provide cover for militant attacks. Israeli media report that troops have been ordered to initially fire warning shots at demonstrators, after which they should target protesters’ legs.

“IDF troops act according to clear rules of engagement that are tailored to the scenarios they are contending with,” a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces said. The spokesman declined to detail those rules but said live fire is a last resort.

The United Nations, however, says Israel is engaged in an “excessive use of force,” and human rights groups point to cases where soldiers have fired at unarmed protesters or at those who didn’t pose an immediate threat.

“The deployment of snipers, careful planning and significant number of injuries to the lower limbs does reflect an apparent policy to target [those] limbs,” said Omar Shakir, Israel-Palestine director at Human Rights Watch in New York. But targeting protesters’ legs “does not make the policy any less illegal,” he said. “The use of live ammunition to any part of the body invariably causes serious injury and even death.”

Palestinian soccer player Mohammed Khalil was filming himself at the “March of Return” protests in Gaza when he was shot and wounded in both legs on March 30.

Doctors in Gaza are often unable to deal with such traumatic injuries, medical groups say, because hospitals there are overwhelmed and understaffed.

“Even at the most advanced hospital in Gaza, it felt like the 1970s,” said Salah Haj Yahia, mobile clinic director for Physicians for Human Rights in Israel. He recently visited Gaza as part of a medical delegation. “If things remain this way, most gunshot casualties will have to undergo amputation,” he said in an email.

Some of the amputations were carried out immediately after victims were shot because of the severity of the injuries, doctors said. In other cases, victims were stabilized but needed treatment outside Gaza if the limbs were to be saved.

Israeli authorities, which tightly restrict the movement of people in and out of the strip on security grounds, rejected the patients’ medical evacuation across Israeli territory to the West Bank.

“It was decided that any request for medical treatment by a terrorist or a rioter who took part in violent events would be denied,” a spokesman for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, an Israeli Defense Ministry agency that oversees policy involving Gaza, said in an emailed statement.

“However, exceptional humanitarian cases are examined on the basis of an assessment of the security situation and at the discretion of the commander of the area,” the statement added.

‘My dreams vanished’

For some youths like Ajouri, the weekly protests were a welcome distraction, an escape from daily life in the Gaza Strip, where jobs and hope are both rare.

The soft-spoken 17-year-old said he was injured at a March 30 protest after he had turned to leave. The bullet tore through his right leg, which was subsequently amputated above the knee.

He still smiles, his eyes crinkling, when he recalls the medals he’d won for the 400-meter dash. “I’m fast, and I love running,” he said from his bed in a sparse room in Jabalya’s refugee camp, as friends and family held vigil. “My hope was to travel to the West Bank and to compete in international games. ”

Alaa al-Daly, 21, was also an aspiring athlete who had hoped to break free from life in Gaza. As a cyclist, he was training for this year’s Asian Games.

On March 30, he participated in a protest near Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. Daly said he had cycled to the border with friends, who had assured him that the demonstration would be peaceful. At one point, after gunfire had erupted, he rushed to help another wounded demonstrator. That, he said, was when the bullet ripped through his knee.

“I saw my leg, and my dreams vanished,” Daly said, as he stared at the ceiling of a hospital room in Gaza City. A single bullet had caused devastating damage. “I said to myself: This wasn’t a bullet. This was like a mini-grenade.”

Doctors performed multiple surgeries to repair his blood vessels and restore blood flow to the limb. After five operations, they amputated his right leg.

Alaa al-Daly is fed by his mother April 19 at his house in Rafah. “I saw my leg, and my dreams vanished,” said the aspiring athlete. (Wissam Nassar/For The Washington Post)

Alaa al-Daly receives treatment April 18 at a hospital in Gaza City. Hospitals in the territory (Wissam Nassar for The Washington Post)

Alaa al-Daly rests on crutches April 19 at his home in Rafah. (Wissam Nassar for The Washington Post)

According to rights groups and health experts, the damage to protesters’ limbs has been unusually severe. Doctors Without Borders, based in Paris, has recorded “an extreme level of destruction to bones and soft tissue, and large exit wounds that can be the size of a fist.”

Human Rights Watch says it is reviewing evidence that bullets fired by Israeli forces have caused “significant bodily injury,” including “the shattering of bones. . . and severing of veins and arteries.”

Asked about the type of ammunition used, an Israeli military spokesman said, “In the context of the violent riots in Gaza, the IDF employs only standard weapons and ammunition that are lawful under international law.”

Israel says its armed response has been appropriate for the threat posed by Palestinians. Israeli officials accuse the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, of using civilian demonstrators as cover to “terrorize Israel.”

Hamas are “cowardly leaders who are hiding behind women and children and sending them forward as human shields,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman wrote on Twitter. “So that they can continue to . . . carry out terrorist actions against the State of Israel.”

Protesters have burned tires, thrown rocks and flown kites carrying molotov cocktails over the fence.

Understaffed, overwhelmed

Amputees in Gaza have few rehabilitation options. There are no doctors who can perform surgery to modify amputees’ stumps to accommodate artificial limbs, according to Physicians for Human Rights in Israel.

And at the Artificial Limbs and Polio Center in Gaza City, the only facility in Gaza that manufactures prostheses, technicians say they face crippling shortages of raw materials. An inadequate power supply also hampers production, leaving many who need limbs without them.

A staff member at the Artificial Limbs and Polio Center in Gaza City prepares a prosthetic leg April 19. The center, which is the only center of its kind in the territory, was established in 1974 and operates with the technical support of the International Committee of the Red Cross. (Wissam Nassar for The Washington Post)

Prostheses are stacked at the Artificial Limbs and Polio Center. Technicians there say crippling shortages of raw materials and an inadequate power supply leave many who need limbs without them. (Wissam Nassar for The Washington Post)

LEFT: A staff member at the Artificial Limbs and Polio Center in Gaza City prepares a prosthetic leg April 19. The center, which is the only center of its kind in the territory, was established in 1974 and operates with the technical support of the International Committee of the Red Cross. RIGHT: Prostheses are stacked at the Artificial Limbs and Polio Center. Technicians there say crippling shortages of raw materials and an inadequate power supply leaves many who need limbs without them.

“Because we are operating with limited tools, we have to be creative with how we fix the prosthetic limbs,” said Abdel Karim al-Sabea, a technician at the center, which is supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross. “It’s only with luck that we end up with the materials we need.”

Youssef al-Kronz, 19, was shot in both legs at the March 30 protest. His left leg was amputated as he awaited Israeli permission to travel for treatment in the West Bank, and doctors warned he risked losing his remaining leg.

In an April 16 ruling, the Israeli Supreme Court said Kronz posed no threat and allowed him to cross to the West Bank, where he is now in a hospital. The ruling applied only to Kronz.

Kronz keeps his thick dark hair in a pompadour and has deep-set eyes that turn down in pain. He says he wants to travel to Turkey or Germany to be fitted for a prosthetic leg. Although medical care in the West Bank is better than in Gaza, the cost of a prosthetic limb is beyond the means of his family, and he hopes a foreign country would provide him with one.

At the moment, however, the top worry is his right leg.

“Our main concern now is treating his remaining leg so that he can hold up the rest of his body,” said his father, Iyad al-Kronz, clutching his son’s medical records.

Iyad was unable to accompany his son to the West Bank, instead remaining behind at their home in the Bureij refu­gee camp, a shantytown of dirt lanes and homes made of corrugated sheet metal.

“We cannot afford an artificial limb on our own,” he said. “He needs at least one leg to survive.”

Mohammed Helles, 20, an injured Palestinian, walks amid a demonstration in Gaza near the border with Israel on April 17. (Wissam Nassar for The Washington Post)

Ruth Eglash in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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When death is not the end

SHALOM OUANOUNOU was declared dead in September. The 25-year-old Canadian had suffered an asthma attack so severe that he was taken to hospital in Ontario where he was put on a ventilator. After carrying out tests, doctors found that his brain lacked functions such as consciousness and respiratory reflexes. They issued a death certificate and prepared to disconnect the medical equipment.

But Mr Ouanounou’s family said that he and they, as Orthodox Jews, believe that life ends only when breath and heartbeat cease. They won a court injunction to keep him on artificial ventilation; his heart stopped of its own accord in March, five months later. “It just doesn’t make any sense to us to say he wasn’t alive throughout that period,” says Max Ouanounou, his father.

Mr Ouanounou would have been declared dead in the same way in almost all rich countries. They tend to treat irreversible loss of all of the brain’s function as constituting death. American states typically demand evidence that the whole brain has stopped working, for example a lack of intracranial blood flow, but there is no national protocol. Britain requires only the death of the brainstem, which runs between the spinal cord and the rest of the brain, and regulates reflexes and functions such as breathing. (Advocates for using brainstem death say it is a proxy for whole-brain death, though others disagree.)

In practice, the question of when someone is dead rarely arises. The heart and lungs usually shut down around the same time as the brain. The lack of pulse and breath is generally considered a biological marker for brain death, not an alternative to it. But determining when death occurs might matter for all sorts of reasons: when is someone widowed? When should a company pay out life insurance? Even, when should a new president be sworn in? As Lainie Ross, a doctor and bioethicist at the University of Chicago, says: “We can’t have someone being considered dead by some people and alive by others.”

Cases such as Mr Ouanounou’s are challenging the consensus about what it means to be dead. A court in Ontario will decide whether to revoke his original death certificate and issue another showing him as having passed away this year. “Death is a value judgment based on cultural, philosophical, religious, social and other considerations,” says Rihito Kimura, a Japanese lawyer and bioethicist. That makes it subject to change.

What it means to be dead was long considered simple; a lack of pulse and breath was the standard sign. But that changed in the 1950s and 1960s with advances in modern medicine. Machines could, for the first time, keep pumping blood through a person’s arteries and veins, and aerating their lungs, long after they lost the ability to do so themselves. That lengthened the dying process: no longer must all organs shut down around the same time.

In 1968 a committee at Harvard Medical School recommended that brain death be the standard definition, and came up with criteria for assessing it. In 1981 America drew on this report in the Uniform Determination of Death Act, which suggests states use brain death as the definition, and that it can be determined either by the end of the heartbeat and breath, or by permanent damage to the whole brain. Most Western countries followed suit.

Mind over matter

There are three reasons why policymakers and most doctors have focused on the brain. One is that Western philosophy sees a distinction between mind and body. And while in other cultures the heart is often viewed as the central organ, Western societies emphasise the importance of the mind, for which the brain is used as a proxy. Bioethicists argue that using brain death as the standard definition values what is unique about humans.

The second consideration is the cost of keeping a person on life support. Stretched health services do not want to spend money on what some consider to be “aerating corpses”. The hospital treating Mr Ouanounou reckoned it had, at the time of the injunction, spent C$500,000 ($400,000) on his treatment.

The final reason is to facilitate organ transplants. In Britain 1,332 people died in 2016 due to a lack of an organ donor; in America the figure is more than 7,000 (the two countries measure the tally in different ways). More organs can be used from a donor who is dead according to brain criteria than after cardio-respiratory failure.

In some countries it is openly recognised that a shortage of organs is a consideration in the use of brain death. This stokes fears that people will be determined brain-dead so that their kidneys, liver or heart can be used in a transplant operation. It also helps explain why Japan continues to rely on cardio-respiratory death, says Mr Kimura. In a famous case in 1968 a doctor in Sapporo, on the northernmost island of Hokkaido, carried out one of the world’s first heart transplants. It was applauded until some questioned whether the donor had been pronounced brain-dead prematurely.

Facing a severe shortage of organs, Japan in 1997 tried to find a middle ground by enacting a law allowing those who clearly express their wish to be a donor to be declared dead when their brains shut down. India’s organ-transplant law of 1994 specifies that death can be determined by a dead brainstem. But that has caused confusion about how to define the death of non-donors, notes Sunil Shroff of the Mohan Foundation, an NGO that promotes organ donation. Other laws dealing with death refer to it as the end of all evidence of life. It is not clear whether that means the brainstem or something broader.

A problem with using whole-brain death as the definition is that it is increasingly apparent that many people declared dead on this basis do not show the permanent cessation of functioning of every aspect of the brain, says Dr Ross. The hypothalamus may continue to secrete hormones, for example. That is one of the arguments being made in the case of Jahi McMath, a bubbly American teenager until a simple operation went wrong. Her family dispute the hospital’s assessment, made in 2013, that she is brain-dead, pointing to the fact she is menstruating, which is neurologically regulated.

Other critics of the status quo support the principle of using the brain-death standard, but worry about how it is applied. They point out that it can leave doctors a lot of room for interpretation. Defenders of the use of brain-death criteria retort that such problems can usually be resolved. Countries can clearly define death in law, in line with medicine’s ability to diagnose it, so there is less room for abuse or doctors’ personal judgments.

But the fundamental challenges to the definition are about whether the brain should be the key component of death. Often this is down to religious belief. Unlike in the past, when Jews were declared dead by a rabbi who would use a feather or mirror to detect when the final breath had left the body, today most Jews accept brain death. But Orthodox sects consider this wrong. Some Muslims hold similar beliefs. Another current case in Canada turns in part on the Christian beliefs of Taquisha McKitty, who was declared dead last year after a drug overdose. Her family say that she believes that the soul is present so long as the heart works and she is breathing, even if only due to medical equipment.

Hugh Scher, the lawyer for the families of both Mr Ouanounou and Ms McKitty, argues that Canada’s legal definition of death violates its constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion. (His opponents say that only living people have that right.) The idea has found some support. The American state of New Jersey bans a doctor from declaring someone dead from irreversible brain damage if the medic has reason to believe it would contravene the patient’s religious convictions. In 2008 Israel introduced a brain-death standard but still allows some choice for patients between that definition and using a cardio-respiratory one.

Last wishes

Many developing countries continue to use cardio-respiratory definitions. African traditional faiths often make people want to prolong life at all costs, observes Rabi Ilemona Ekore, a doctor at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. Many Africans believe they will become an ancestor in the spirit world only if their life is not cut short.

Objections to brain death are not just religious, though. Some places prefer cardio-respiratory death because they lack the medical equipment to keep a brain-dead person breathing, notes Daphne Ngunjiri, a Kenyan doctor.

Japan is reluctant to see the brain-dead as gone partly owing to a different notion of what makes someone human. The whole body is given prominence in Japan, rather than the mind, as in the West. “If we explain to families the notion of death in Western countries, they struggle to accept it,” says Misa Ganse of the Japan Organ Transplant Network.

Opinion polls tend to show that people do not understand brain death, but when they do, the results suggest that even in Japan a majority supports the idea of using it as the standard. But Claire White-Kravette, a psychologist at California State University, Northridge, in Los Angeles, says that even if people accept it in the abstract or at an intellectual level, when it involves an actual person, they feel differently.

It is hard for people to accept that someone is dead when faced with a relative who is warm and rosy-cheeked. Mr Ouanounou, for example, says his son looked “like he was sleeping”. Ms White-Kravette also reckons that most surveys ask about the mind and body only, thereby failing to allow for a third component, call it life-force or a person’s essence, which many people, whatever the country, believe exists, and do not necessarily associate with the brain. Such objections are not catered for, bar in New York state, which directs doctors to show “reasonable accommodation” for not only religious but also moral protests against the brain-death standard.

The challenges to the status quo have a unifying theme: the lack of say over something as fundamental as one’s own demise. Blanket definitions of any sort go against what Rob Jonquière of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, a network spanning 26 countries, says is a global trend towards more respect for people’s right to determine their own end. Few dispute that, for society to function, death must be clearly defined. But there are growing calls for countries to allow people to opt out of their national definition—within limits—by making their wishes known.

Dr Ross and Robert Veatch, a professor at Georgetown University, argue that those options should include not only cardio-respiratory death, but a more liberal definition of brain death based on the irreversible loss of consciousness. Assuming it is medically possible to determine this, they contend that it is what makes us human and what current brain-death definitions attempt, clumsily, to measure.

Allowing people some discretion in death would have practical implications. But none seems insurmountable. Insurance premiums could, for example, take account of medical charges to cover the costs of equipment and drugs for someone who favours cardio-respiratory death. The limited examples in Japan, Israel and parts of America have thrown up few problems. Societies find ways to deal with similarly tricky matters. Even when less is at stake.

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Asylum-seekers in Mexico snub warnings of stern US response

U.S. immigration lawyers are telling Central Americans in a caravan of asylum-seekers that traveled through Mexico to the border with San Diego that they face possible separation from their children and detention for many months. They say they want to prepare them for the worst possible outcome.

“We are the bearers of horrible news,” Los Angeles lawyer Nora Phillips said during a break from legal workshops for the migrants at three Tijuana locations where about 20 lawyers gave free information and advice. “That’s what good attorneys are for.”

The Central Americans, many traveling as families, on Sunday will test the Trump administration’s tough rhetoric criticizing the caravan when the migrants begin seeking asylum by turning themselves in to border inspectors at San Diego’s San Ysidro border crossing, the nation’s busiest.

President Donald Trump and members of his Cabinet have been tracking the caravan, calling it a threat to the U.S. since it started March 25 in the Mexican city of Tapachula, near the Guatemala border. They have promised a stern, swift response.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the caravan “a deliberate attempt to undermine our laws and overwhelm our system,” pledging to send more immigration judges to the border to resolve cases if needed.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said asylum claims will be resolved “efficiently and expeditiously” but said the asylum-seekers should seek it in the first safe country they reach, including Mexico.

Any asylum seekers making false claims to U.S. authorities could be prosecuted as could anyone who assists or coaches immigrants on making false claims, Nielsen said. Administration officials and their allies claim asylum fraud is growing and that many who seek it are coached on how to do so.

Kenia Elizabeth Avila, 35, appeared shaken after the volunteer attorneys told her Friday that temperatures may be cold in temporary holding cells and that she could be separated from her three children, ages 10, 9 and 4.

But she in said an interview that returning to her native El Salvador would be worse. She fled for reasons she declined to discuss.

“If they’re going to separate us for a few days, that’s better than getting myself killed in my country,” she said.

Since Congress failed to agree on a broad immigration package in February, administration officials have made it a legislative priority to end what they call “legal loopholes” and “catch-and-release” policies that allow asylum-seekers to be released from custody while their claims wind through the courts in cases that can last for year.

The lawyers who went to Tijuana denied coaching any of the roughly 400 people in the caravan who recently arrived in Tijuana, camping out in shelters near some of the city’s seedier bars and bordellos.

Some migrants received one-on-one counseling to assess the merits of their cases and groups of the migrants with their children playing nearby were told how asylum works in the U.S.

Asylum-seekers are typically held up to three days at the border and turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. If they pass an asylum officer’s initial screening, they may be detained or released with ankle monitors.

Nearly 80 percent of asylum-seekers passed the initial screening from October through December, the latest numbers available, but few are likely to eventually win asylum.

Mexicans fared worst among the 10 countries that sent the largest numbers of U.S. asylum seekers from 2012 to 2017, with a denial rate of 88 percent, according to asylum outcome records tracked by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Action Clearinghouse. El Salvadorans were close behind with a 79 percent denial rate, followed by Hondurans at 78 percent and Guatemalans at 75 percent.

Evelyn Wiese, a San Francisco immigration attorney, said she tried to make migrants more comfortable sharing memories of the dangers they faced in their homelands.

“It’s really scary to tell these experiences to a stranger,” Wiese said after counseling a visibly shaken Guatemalan woman at an art gallery in a building that used to house a drug smuggling tunnel into San Diego. “The next time she tells her story will be easier.”

Nefi Hernandez, who planned to seek asylum with his wife and infant daughter was born on the journey through Mexico, worried he could be kept in custody away from his daughter. But his spirits lifted when he learned he might be released with an ankle bracelet.

Hernandez, 24, said a gang in his hometown of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, threatened to kill him and his family if he did not sell drugs.

Jose Cazares, 31, said he faced death threats in the northern Honduran city of Yoro because a gang member suspected of killing the mother of his children learned one of Cazares’ sons reported the crime to police.

“One can always make up for lost time with a child, but if they kill him, you can’t,” he said outside his dome-shaped tent in a migrant shelter near the imposing U.S. border barriers separating San Diego from Tijuana.

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Largest child sacrifice in history discovered in Peru

The skeletal remains of more than 140 children and 200 baby llamas were found on the country’s northern coast. It may be evidence of the largest child sacrifice in history, according to an exclusive report by National Geographic, released Thursday on its website. The remains of a man and two women were also found.

The sacrifices are believed to have taken place 550 years ago in the pre-Columbian Chimú Empire, in a sacrificial site formerly known as Huanchaquito-Las Llamas, close to a UNESCO World Heritage site of Chan Chan, in the modern town of Trujillo.

The children ranged in age from 5 to 14, according to the report. The baby llamas were less than 18 months old.

“Skeletal remains of both children and animals show evidence of cuts to the sternum as well as rib dislocations,” the report says.

The children had their faces smeared with a red cinnabar-based pigment, the report says, which took place during the ceremony before their chests were cut open, most likely to remove their hearts.

“The sacrificial llamas appear to have met the same fate,” the report states.

According to National Geographic, the children were “buried facing west, out to the sea.” The baby llamas were buried facing east, toward the high peaks of the Andes.

Based on evidence from layers of dried mud, the report states it’s believed that all the human and animal sacrifices took place at the same time. The three adults found had blunt-force trauma to the head and no grave, leading scientist to believe they, too, were part of the sacrifice.

The site where the children and baby llamas were found has been under excavation since 2011, when the site first made headlines after the discovery of 42 children and 76 llamas during an emergency dig.

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Pakistan moves jailed doctor who helped track bin Laden

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistani prison authorities have moved the jailed doctor believed to have helped the CIA hunt down Osama bin Laden, his attorney said on Saturday, speculating it could be a prelude to his release.

FILE PHOTO: A roadside vendor sells newspapers with headlines about the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in Lahore May 3, 2011. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza/File Photo

The continued imprisonment of Dr. Shakil Afridi has long been a source of tension between Pakistan and the United States, which cut military aid over accusations Pakistan continues to shelter Taliban militants fighting U.S. and Afghan soldiers across the border in Afghanistan.

A jail official in the northwestern city of Peshawar told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Afridi had been transferred to Adiala prison in Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad, but said the reasons were unclear and could simply be security-related.

Afridi’s lawyer, Qamar Nadeem, confirmed the transfer of his client but said he was not sure where he was now. Judicial officials could not be reached on Saturday, nor could embassy officials for the United States, which has for years called on Pakistan to release Afridi.

Afridi was accused of treason after word spread he had helped the CIA collect genetic samples of the bin Laden family, paving the way for a U.S. Navy Seal raid in 2011 in the town of Abbottabad that killed the al Qaeda leader accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States that killed nearly 3,000 people.

He was arrested days after the U.S. operation – which Pakistan called a violation of its sovereignty – and charged with aiding terrorists.

Afridi was sentenced to 23 years’ jail for financing terrorism. That conviction was overturned in 2013, but he is still serving time for other terrorism-related convictions, his lawyer said.

FILE PHOTO: A police officer walks past Central Jail in Peshawar June 21, 2012. REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz/File Photo

He also faced a murder trial related to the death of a patient more than a decade ago.

However, the layer said Afridi had recently had his latest sentence reduced to seven years in a clemency action, and had served about that amount of time already.

“So I think he can be released very soon,” Nadeem told Reuters.

There were no other immediate indications of any release in the works, however.

In January 2017, Pakistan’s then-law minister said the country would not release Afridi under any U.S. pressure.

“Afridi worked against the law and our national interest, and the Pakistan government has repeatedly been telling the United States that under our law he committed a crime and was facing the law,” Zahid Hamid was quoted as saying at the time.

Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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