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Andy Worthington Speaks at Event in London Marking Two Years Since Aafia Siddiqui’s Barbaric 86-Year Sentence

I’m sorry to report that it’s two years since the Pakistani neuroscientist Dr. Aafia Siddiqui received an 86-year sentence in a court in New York…

The trial of Aafia Siddiqui, which culminated in her sentence, and which I described at the time as “barbaric,” appeared to be a cover for a much grimmer story — one of the darkest in the whole of the torture-filled “war on terror” — in which, on the basis of alleged connections with terrorism that have never been proved, she had disappeared with her children in Pakistan in March 2003 and was then held in a “black site” until her engineered reappearance in Ghazni in 2008.

According to the US authorities, after being captured in a bewildered state, she allegedly tried and failed to shoot the Americans guarding her, which provided an excuse to render her to the US to be put on trial — an unusual move given that most people accused of anti-American activities in Afghanistan did not end up in the US — and for her to be silenced as a result of the 86-year sentence handed down after a trial that critics called “a grave miscarriage of justice,” and to be held in isolation in a psychiatric prison/hospital for women in Carswell, Texas, notoriously referred to as the “hospital of horrors”, where her health continues to deteriorate, and where she is denied meaningful contact with her family…

As time passes …several significant figures have very publicly expressed their disgust at Aafia’s plight, and the severity of her sentence. Recently, for example, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark visited Pakistan and stated, “Justice demands that Aafia Siddiqui should immediately be released. I haven’t witnessed such bare injustice in my entire career.” In addition, Khurshid Kasuri, Pakistan’s foreign minister under Pervez Musharraf, the President at the time of Aafia’s disappearance, has stated, “I’m so sorry for handing over the innocent Dr. Aafia Siddiqui to the Americans. It was my biggest mistake ever.”

Furthermore, just this week US Senator Mike Gravel, accompanied by the attorney Tina Foster of the International Justice Network, also visited Pakistan, where, as the Express Tribune described it, they “said that the Musharraf regime had illegally kidnapped Dr. Aafia along with her three children from Karachi in March 2003, and handed her over to the US government for illegal interrogation and secret detention based on completely false information.” The Express Tribune added that Sen. Gravel “maintained that Dr Aafia’s trial in the United States was illegal,” and “added that the US government had no moral or legal justification for their actions.”

Both he and Tina Foster stressed, however, that the Pakistani government “would have to take serious action if it wanted Dr. Siddiqui to be repatriated.” Foster said, “We have received no cooperation from the Government of Pakistan in securing Dr Siddiqui’s repatriation to Pakistan. There’s been a lot of talk, but no concrete steps have been taken despite numerous requests for assistance.” She added, “I’ve come on a humanitarian mission to ask Pakistani leadership for its assistance in returning Dr. Siddiqui to Pakistan. It’s obvious that the will of the Pakistani people is being ignored by their leadership.”…

Mr. Worthington's full posting can be viewed here

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