Fresh efforts unveiled to prove Aafia Siddiqui’s innocence

Published March 3, 2024
A file photo of Pakistan-born neuroscientist Dr Aafia Siddiqui.
A file photo of Pakistan-born neuroscientist Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

KARACHI: Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s American lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, said on Saturday he had been working to find further evidence of torture on her in US custody and her innocence for the past 10 days.

Addressing a press conference along with Dr Aafia’s sister, Dr Fowzia Siddiqui, Mr Smith said he had been working day and night with the very willing assistance of many people in Afghanistan to find further evidence of Dr Aafia’s torture in US custody and her innocence of the charges.

He said numerous witnesses proved that Dr Aafia was held in Bagram for a significant part of the five years she was missing (2003-08), before she was moved to another, even worse prison. “People who say she was at liberty at that time are simply not telling the truth,” he added.

The counsel said that on July 17, 2008, Dr Aafia was sent to Ghazni with the promise that she would get her daughter, Maryam, back. “We can now prove that this was a sham, and a call had been made to the police that she was a suicide bomber,” he said, adding that the only thing that saved her life was a brave Ghazni tailor who worked across from the Khalid Bin Walid Mosque and had been able to speak Urdu with her.

He said the tailor prevented Dr Aafia’s potential shooting by AK-47-wielding Afghan National Police officers by vouching for her innocence and by standing between her and them and telling them that the caller was lying. “We have located several witnesses to corroborate the tailor’s evidence,” Mr Smith added.

The counsel said they had proof that the evidence presented at Dr Aafia’s American trial was false from start to finish.

Dr Fowzia Siddiqui said the world talked warmly about women’s rights, but it suddenly became silent when Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s name was uttered.

She said the nations that keep mum on the safety and security of their mothers and daughters don’t live with pride in this world.

She said that successive governments and politicians had disappointed the nation on the issue of Dr Aafia. “I have no hope that our spineless politicians would do anything for Aafia,” she said, adding that she was, however, confident about the role of courts.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2024

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