WASHINGTON, Aug 4: Elaine Whitfield Sharp, the lawyer representing Aafia Siddiqui’s family, alleged on Monday that the MIT-trained Pakistani neuroscientist was being detained for political reasons.

Talking to Dawn, Ms Sharp also claimed that so far all the allegations brought against Ms Siddiqui had “proven wrong and unsubstantiated”.

The US media reported on Sunday that Ms Siddiqui was in US custody in Afghanistan, but gave no details.

The FBI office in Washington, when asked to comment on the reports, referred this correspondent to the US attorney’s office for New York’s southern district. Rebekah Carmichael, a press officer at the attorney’s office, however, said she had “no comments” to offer,

Ms Siddiqui, 36, disappeared with her three children while visiting her parents’ home in Karachi in March 2003, around the same time the FBI announced that it wanted to question her over her alleged links to Al Qaeda. The fate of her three young, American-born children is still unknown.

Ms Sharp said Ms Siddiqui’s family and lawyer were still trying to locate her and her three children. Ms Sharp, who spoke with an FBI agent on Friday, said the agent told her that she was alive but that injured.

Ms Sharp claimed that “every time that US authorities accused Aafia of something, we showed it was false”.

“They accused her of brokering a diamond ring for giving the proceeds to Al Qaeda. They said she was in Liberia when she did this. We showed she was here in Boston, running a play group with her sister.

“They said she was involved in the production of neuro-chemical to be used by terrorists in the US. We showed that she was not.”

Ms Sharp said US authorities also had accused her of other wrongdoings, but “when ask for evidence, they never gave us any evidence”.

Ms Sharp identified the FBI agent who spoke to her as David Baker, based in Houston, Texas. He visited Aafia’s brother Mohammed Siddiqui in Houston and gave him his business card.

“I have verified that he is an FBI agent, and on Friday morning he called me back and verified what he had told Mohammed Siddiqui.”

Ms Sharp also rejected a media report that papers seized in Guantanamo Bay prison camp indicate that Aafia Siddiqui married Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, an alleged Al Qaeda facilitator who intended to blow up gas stations or poison water reservoirs in the United States.

“We dispute that she is married to that man,” said Ms Sharp. “We have no evidence. This has been concocted to paint her guilty by association.”

Consular access

Pakistan has sought consular access to Ms Aafia Siddiqui, a spokesman of the embassy in Washington told Dawn on Monday night.


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