US attorney holds a brief for Aafia’s repatriation

Published April 8, 2015
Dr Aafia Siddiqui is the most important political prisoner of the present world, says Stephen Downs.—AP/File
Dr Aafia Siddiqui is the most important political prisoner of the present world, says Stephen Downs.—AP/File

LAHORE: Calling Dr Aafia Siddiqui the most important political prisoner of the present world, a US lawyer wonders why the Pakistan government is not officially seeking her repatriation.

Renowned US lawyer Stephen Downs along with Dr Aafia’s sister Dr Fowzia told a press conference here on Tuesday that a new study carried out in the USA found that 94pc of those held in connection with terrorism cases after 9/11 were unfairly prosecuted and Dr Aafia was at No 2 in the list.

Take a look: Conviction unfair, pleads Aafia Siddiqui

Jointly released by SALAM (Support And Legal Advocacy for Muslims) and the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF), the study titled ‘Inventing Terrorists: The Lawfare of Preemptive Prosecution’ is the first to directly examine and critique preemptive prosecution and its abuses. The study’s authors are Albany attorneys Stephen Downs and Kathy Manley.


Reports a scathing criticism of war on terror


Ms Manley could not attend the press conference because of her indisposition.

Quoting from the study, Mr Downs said “...the war on terror has been largely a charade designed to make the American public believe that a terrorist army is loose in the US, when the truth is that most of the people convicted of terrorism-related crimes posed no danger to the US and were entrapped by a preventive strategy known as preemptive prosecution.”

Blog: Beyond Aafia

He said Dr Aafia was the most well-known political prisoner in the world and the injustice and maltreatment she had received shocks the conscience.

“We fail to understand why Pakistan has not asked for her repatriation. No political considerations could be strong enough to prolong her sufferings. We feel that this is not a difficult task if the political will is there. The world now knows that these preemptive prosecutions are actually a shameful fact and need to be rectified and there is no better place to start than with Dr Aafia.”

He said there were many ways that Aafia could be repatriated but first Pakistan had to officially demand her return, which surprisingly the government has still not done. He said that during his brief stay he had noticed the overwhelming support and love that ordinary Pakistani citizens have for Aafia and “we hope to help take this process further by meeting various officials in the government.”

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2015

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