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Thursday, January 21, 2010
Pakistani scientist alleges torture
Pakistani citizen Aafia Siddiqui has told jurors at her trial in U.S. that she was held in a secret prison in Afghanistan, her children were tortured, and the case against her is a sham.
On Tuesday, Siddiqui was thrown out of the New York courtroom where her trail is being held after shouting the remarks at the jurors.
The MIT-educated neuroscientist is currently on trial, facing charges of trying to kill U.S. soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan in 2008 and connections with Al-Qaeda operatives.
She was ejected from her federal court trial after her second outburst, Bloomberg reported.
“Since I'll never get a chance to speak,"" she said in the courtroom. ""If you were in a secret prison, or your children were tortured…""
She insisted that she knew nothing about a plan to carry out terrorist attacks on targets in New York, The New York Daily News reported.
""Give me a little credit, this is not a list of targets of New York,"" she said. ""I was never planning to bomb it. You're lying.""
Siddiqui vanished in Karachi, Pakistan with her three children on March 30, 2003. The next day it was reported in local newspapers that she had been taken into custody on terrorism charges.
U.S. officials allege Aafia Siddiqui was seized on July 17, 2008 by Afghan security forces in Ghazni province and claim that documents, including formulas for explosives and chemical weapons, were found in her handbag.
They say that while she was being interrogated, she grabbed a U.S. warrant officer's M-4 rifle and fired two shots at FBI agents and military personnel but missed and that the warrant officer then fired back, hitting her in the torso.
She was brought to the United States to face charges of attempted murder and assault. Siddiqui faces 20 years in prison if convicted.
However, human rights organizations have cast doubt on the accuracy of the U.S. account of the event.
Many political activists believe she was Prisoner 650 of the U.S. detention facility in Bagram, Afghanistan, where they say she was tortured for five years until one day U.S. authorities announced that they had found her in Afghanistan.