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Senators meet Aafia, call for her release

October 09, 2008


NEW YORK, Oct 8: Four Pakistani senators on Tuesday met Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist being held at a medical facility in Carswell, Texas, for medical evaluation, on orders from a US court judge.

Talking to reporters by telephone from Texas after the meeting, leader of the delegation Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed said “we want immediate release of Ms Aafia Siddiqui.”

“She has no terrorism charges against her. She should be immediately repatriated to Pakistan because her human rights have been violated and US is getting bad image as a consequence,” said Mr Mushahid. He said that the meeting with Ms Siddiqui lasted two hours and 45 minutes. Others in the delegation included Senators S.M. Zafar, Saadia Abbasi and Talha Mahmood.

Ms Siddiqui was sent to the psychological evaluation facility on Sunday on orders from Judge Richard Berman to determine if she was “medically fit and mentally competent” to stand trial.

Pakistan has asked American authorities to send Dr Siddiqui to Pakistan because the best possible treatment is available there.

Dr Aafia’s lawyer in New York pleaded that she should not be sent to Texas where she could undergo only psychiatric examination, adding that she also required medical treatment.

Ms Siddiqui has not attended court proceedings since September 4 and authorities have informed the court that she has boycotted the proceedings to protest against her body search.

She was shot in the abdomen by an officer after allegedly grabbing a US soldier’s gun during questioning in July and was brought to the United States to face charges of attempted murder and assault.

It is unclear how she came to be in Afghanistan. US officials say police found documents in her handbag on making explosives, excerpts from the book, “Anarchist’s Arsenal” and descriptions of New York City landmarks.

Her lawyers say she may be a victim of torture and believe she was kidnapped with her children in March 2003 in Karachi and secretly held in custody for the past five years by either Pakistani or US authorities.