|By Marketwired .||
|October 8, 2013 12:57 AM EDT||
LOS ANGELES, CA -- (Marketwired) -- 10/08/13 -- MMRGlobal, Inc. (OTCQB: MMRF) today called attention to a Newsmax article entitled "'American Hero' Languishes in Jail," profiling in part the humanitarian and philanthropic efforts of MMRGlobal CEO Robert H. "Bob" Lorsch and Company spokesperson Kira Reed Lorsch to free Dr. Shakil Afridi, the man who confirmed the location of Osama bin Laden for the U.S. only to be left behind to serve a 33-year sentence in a remote Pakistani prison cell. Written by Robert V. Carl for the September edition of Newsmax Magazine, the article which appears below focuses on how the CEO of the publicly traded healthcare information company MMRGlobal, a leading provider of interoperable Personal Health Records (PHRs) for patients, and his wife launched a "Free Afridi" campaign in February of this year to help gain support for the doctor's release (www.freeafridi.com). On August 29th, six months after the launch of the campaign, a Pakistani judicial commissioner overturned the 33-year prison sentence imposed on Dr. Afridi whose retrial is scheduled to continue in Pakistan today.
A Pakistani doctor who heroically helped the U.S. verify Osama bin Laden's whereabouts is facing 33 years in prison. Have we turned our backs on one of our friends?
Not long after the news broke that Seal Team Six had abruptly terminated Osama bin Laden's reign of terror, the world learned that a mysterious Pakistani doctor had played a critical role in positively locating the terror mastermind.
"This was an individual who in fact helped provide intelligence that was very helpful with regards to this operation," was all that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta would say on 60 Minutes. It is now widely believed that individual was Dr. Shakil Afridi.
According to an exhaustive investigative report published in GQ magazine, Afridi's role in the hunt for bin Laden began when the CIA recruited the doctor in 2008.
Intelligence agents suspected bin Laden was hiding in a large compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. But they needed proof, so they developed an elaborate ruse involving the collection of blood samples as part of a routine hepatitis-vaccination program.
It was Afridi who ran the vaccination effort. And by most accounts, it was thanks to Afridi's program that the CIA was able to obtain DNA evidence that bin Laden was living in the compound. Pakistani officials made no secret of their intense rage and embarrassment. After all, the CIA operation exposed the fact that the world's most wanted terrorist had been hiding out for years in Abbottabad, just 1.3 miles from Pakistan's equivalent of West Point.
A few weeks after SEAL Team Six killed bin Laden, Pakistani authorities threw Afridi in prison. He is serving a 33-year sentence that appears to be politically motivated.
But the Pakistani doctor has some powerful allies. Among them: Hollywood power couple Kira Reed and Robert Lorsch. They have launched a high-profile global campaign to win Afridi's release.
Kira Reed Lorsch is an actress who spent seven years as a reporter for Playboy TV. Robert Lorsch is CEO of MMRGlobal, a publicly traded healthcare information company.
Their involvement in the Afridi matter began after Robert Lorsch traveled to Washington, D.C., to discuss healthcare policy. He was meeting with GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher when the California congressman indicated he was troubled by Afridi's fate. Rohrabacher has described Afridi as "an American hero." Robert had never heard of him.
"So I started Googling his name and I was blown away," Robert tells Newsmax, adding, "Without Afridi, there'd be no Zero Dark 30, and Osama bin Laden would still be running around."
Rather than expend their resources on another Hollywood crusade against global warming or some other fashionable cause, the Lorsches decided to press for Afridi's liberation.
They announced their campaign just before Oscar night, with an ad in The Hollywood Reporter, an entertainment industry trade publication. They did so just ahead of the Academy Awards, figuring to piggyback on the publicity surrounding Zero Dark 30, a movie about the hunt for bin Laden that received five Oscar nominations.
"Afridi is the man who verified Osama bin Laden's location," the ad stated. "He was abandoned, captured, and is still being tortured . . . as you celebrate the Oscars, please consider spending a few moments of your limelight to draw attention to freeing Dr. Afridi."
Later, as Zero Dark 30 actors Jessica Chastain and Jason Clarke walked the red carpet on Oscar night, they called for Afridi's release when prompted by a Fox News reporter. That led to a series of news reports that drew much-needed attention to Afridi's punishment.
Unless the campaign succeeds, Afridi's hopes appear dim. Pakistani officials prosecuted him under a colonial-era provision of its law, so that Afridi could be tried secretly and without legal representation. Family members say he has been tortured.
"He'll be in a dungeon for 33 years," says Robert. "His hands are bound, he's beaten regularly, he lives in squalor and filth and gets a change of clothes every three months."
At an Oscar party, the Lorsches began chatting up Afridi's plight with celebrities and other entertainment-industry insiders. They were pleasantly surprised at the reaction. "I thought they would object to us using the Oscars for political purposes," Kira recalls. "But they were really into it." Winning over Hollywood was merely the first phase, however. The couple also launched FreeAfridi.com, a website that collects donations and provides tools for those campaigning for Afridi's release.
They also placed an ad in the Military Times, which is read by more than 600,000 former and current military personnel and their families.
So far, the couple has spent $70,000 of their own money to raise awareness of the doctor's imprisonment. But they're planning to do much more.
"I'm going to buy Kira another Afridi ad for our anniversary, and another for her birthday," Robert Lorsch promises.
Some lawmakers are taking action, too. A Senate committee cut $33 million in aid to Pakistan -- $1 million for each year of his sentence. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Rohrabacher are lobbying for about $1 billion more in financial aid to be withheld from Pakistan until Afridi is released.
Afridi is doing what little he can to fight back as well.
He began a hunger strike to protest the fact that his wife and three children are being kept from him. The Lorsches say he also managed to contact a Fox News reporter, using a satellite phone smuggled into prison.
Says Robert: "A man risks his life to help America and our government lets him rot? They should move heaven and earth to free this hero."
Hollywood Rallies in Support
In their effort to save Dr. Shakil Afridi, Robert and Kira Lorsch have learned so much that they're considering making a documentary film about the Pakistani doctor, then leveraging his story into a book and, ultimately, into a mainstream film akin to Argo, the movie directed by Ben Affleck that won the 2012 Oscar for Best Picture.
Argo was based on a true story about the rescue of six Americans hiding in Tehran during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. The six were eventually smuggled out of the country by U.S. State Department operatives who posed as Hollywood filmmakers in order to gain relatively free access into the country. Despite being widely credited with providing critical assistance to the U.S. operation that brought top al-Qaida terrorist and 9/11 plotter Osama bin Laden to justice, Afridi languishes in a Pakistani prison where he is serving a 33-year sentence.
The Beverly Hills couple is no stranger to filmmaking: Kira is an actress, writer, and producer. Robert has executive-produced live television events.
Robert is determined to keep up the fight for Afridi's release. "The world needs to hear Dr. Afridi's story, and hopefully it will have a very happy ending," he tells Newsmax. "We're gonna get this guy out of Pakistan. And when we do, we're gonna throw the biggest party Hollywood has ever seen, all in his honor."-- R.C.
Article reprinted with permission of Newsmax Media.
MMRGlobal, Inc. (MMRF), through its wholly-owned operating subsidiary, MyMedicalRecords, Inc., provides secure and easy-to-use online Personal Health Records ("PHRs") and electronic safe deposit box storage solutions, serving consumers, healthcare professionals, employers, insurance companies, financial institutions, retail pharmacies, and professional organizations and affinity groups. The MyMedicalRecords PHR enables individuals and families to access their medical records and other important documents, such as birth certificates, passports, insurance policies and wills, anytime from anywhere using the Internet. MyMedicalRecords is built on proprietary, patented technologies to allow documents, images and voicemail messages to be transmitted and stored in the system using a variety of methods, including fax, phone, or file upload without relying on any specific electronic medical record platform to populate a user's account. The Company's professional offering, MMRPro, is designed to give physicians' offices an easy and cost-effective solution to digitizing paper-based medical records and sharing them with patients through an integrated patient portal. Through its merger with Favrille, Inc. in January 2009, the Company acquired intellectual property biotech assets that include anti-CD20 antibodies and data and samples from its FavId/Specifid vaccine clinical trials for the treatment of B-Cell Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. To learn more about MMRGlobal, Inc. visit www.mmrglobal.com. View demos and video tutorials of the Company's products and services at www.mmrtheater.com.
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