WASHINGTON: Pakistan Con­sul General in Houston Aisha Farooqui has rejected rumours about Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s death as baseless and false, adding that she met Siddiqui on Wednesday at a US federal facility.

The two-hour meeting took place at the Federal Medical Centre, Carswell, which is a US federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas, for female inmates of all security levels with special medical and mental health needs.

“Consul General Aisha Farooqui today, undertook a consular visit to FMC Carswell in Fortworth, Texas, to meet Dr Aafia Siddiqui. The meeting with Dr Aafia lasted two hours,” said an official statement issued on Wednesday evening.

“Recent rumours regarding Dr Aafia Siddiqui are completely baseless and false and are refuted. The Consul General met Dr Aafia in her prison cell inside the FMC Carswell complex. This was the Consul General’s fourth consular visit to Dr Aafia Siddiqui in the last 14 months,” the Consulate added.

On Sept 23, 2010, a court in New York sentenced Dr Siddiqui, a neuroscientist, to 86 years in prison. Earlier reports, circulating mainly on social media, had claimed that Dr Siddiqui had died in prison.

Dr Siddiqui’s sympathisers claim that she was arrested in Pakistan and handed over to intelligence agencies who then transferred her into US custody. Both US and Pakistani officials, however, say that she was arrested in Afghanistan.

Dr Siddiqui, an MIT graduate, allegedly went missing for five years before she was discovered in Afghanistan. It is said that she snatched a gun during interrogation in Ghazni and tried to shoot a US soldier. She has also been accused of working for Al Qaeda.

Earlier this month, Pakistan also rejected media claims that Islamabad had agreed to swap Dr Siddiqui for Dr Shakil Afridi, who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged before a congressional committee on Wednesday that he would continue to work “diligently” to get Afridi out of the prison.

US lawmakers have urged the administration to bring Afridi to the United States where he is considered a hero.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2018