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Dr. Aafia Siddiqui declines U.S charges in NY court-immediate release demanded

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NEW YORK: A Pakistani neuroscientist and mother of three, who is accused of Al-Qaeda links and shooting at US officers in Afghanistan has refused all the U.S allegations leveled against her that she tried to kill U.S. agents and military officers in New York court here on early Wednesday.

Wearing a maroon headscarf, she talked very softly and was asked by the judge to speak up. Down with the weakness and having a bullet wound in her leg she refused to admit allegations leveled against her by nodding her head slowly. US officials paint Siddiqui as a desperate, highly dangerous figure arrested in Afghanistan on July 17, 2007, in possession of bomb-making instructions.

Aafia Siddiqui didn’t enter a plea at arraignment in Manhattan federal court. Prosecutors say she was stopped last month for questioning by Afghan police who found in her handbag documents including recipes for explosives and chemical weapons and descriptions of New York landmarks. Prosecutors say she pointed a rifle at an Army captain and fired two shots, which missed. Siddiqui’s attorney says the case against her is absurd. A bail hearing is set for Monday.

The FBI and other US agencies have been torturing Dr Aafia Siddiqui mentally and physically for last five years and she should be immediately released, demanded her sister Dr. Fouzia Siddiqui. While Pakistan Professionals Forum (PPF) would hold peaceful protest at Parade Ground opposite Parliament House on Thursday against abduction of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui by US on Thursday. Sources told that the protest to be joined by doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers, student and civil society activists of twin cities. Meanwhile, Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui, sister of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, will address directly whereas Ms. Yvonne Ridley, Patron, Cage Prisoners, and journalist on telephone.

Addressing a news conference at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) along with Iqbal Haider, Co-chairman of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, she said Dr Aafia Siddiqui was taken in custody by the US agencies in 2003. The governments of United States and Pakistan, officially, denied her arrest. An application for the recovery of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui from secret agencies was pending with the Supreme Court of Pakistan, she said.

Dr Fouzia Siddiqui said when some time back her family contacted the US authorities for demanding her release, they were warned by to keep a mum over the issue if they wanted to see her alive. She asked why the US government failed to produce Dr Afia Siddiqui before the court soon after her arrest in 2003 for allegedly keeping chemical and biological weapons. “My sister never committed terrorism. She was never involved in such activities,” Fouzia Siddiqui asserted, adding she was an innocent woman and competent professional in her field.

Dr Afia was tortured at Bagram Base detention center in Afghanistan by the US agencies along with her three sons for five years, she said adding their family even did not know whether she was dead or alive.

According to early news details Islamabad High Court on July 30, 2008 issued notices to Interior Ministry for release of Dr Afia Siddiqui who is allegedly detained in a US jail in Afghanistan. The petition filed by Barrister Iqbal Jaffery was heard by IHC Chief Justice Sardar Aslam who after hearing the arguments of petitioner asked interior ministry to present their plea on the next hearing day of the case that will be held on September 9.

After adjournment of the hearing talking to media Iqbal Jaffery said that as information suggests Dr Afia has been shifted to a jail in Kabul from Bagram jail and her condition has further deteriorated. Barrister Jaffery said he will go to Geneva next month where he will meet UN Human Rights Commissioner to apprise him about the human rights violations in Pakistan.

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Rubab Saleemhttp://www.rubabsaleem.com
Rubab Saleem is Editor of Pakistan Times
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1 COMMENT

  1. This is a strange case indeed. While the US government charges seem far-fetched, the Siddiqui family story seems equally far-fetched. What is the basis for the claim that Aafia has been edtained by the US and tortured for five years? Yvonne Ridley thinks that Aafia was Prisoner 650 at Bagram. Where’s even a shred of evidence of that? Nowhere to be found, yet many Pakistanis believe it as if it were proven.

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