COPAA Expresses Deep Anguish over Continued Detention of Dr. Afia Siddiqui
A COPAA press release states: Human rights organizations claim that more than a thousand persons have been missing in Pakistan since 2001. It is believed that most of the presumed “missing” persons are in the custody of either Pakistani or American security forces. One such missing person is Dr. Afia Siddiqui, a Pakistani physician educated at MIT. It is suspected that she was picked up from Pakistan and kept at the Bagram Internment Facility in Afghanistan for more than five years. Both ISI of Pakistan and the CIA always denied her capture. The sudden appearance of Dr. Siddiqui in Afghanistan raises serious doubts on the statements issued by the US intelligence authority saying that she was arrested on July 17, 2008.
Dr Afia Siddiqui was accused by the US government of being involved in terrorist plots against the US. She was brought to a federal court in New York on August 5, 2008, where she denied all the charges against her. Dr. Siddiqui’s lawyer, Elizabeth Fink, accused the US of setting her client up by planting evidence and poisoning the legal process by leaking false information about her client.
According to the affidavit filed in federal court by FBI, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, who mysteriously disappeared while traveling from Karachi to Islamabad with her three children in 2003, was arrested on July 17 in Afghanistan’s province of Ghizni outside of the Governor’s residence. She had documents describing major US landmarks, bottles and jars of chemicals and instructions to make chemical weapons. Dr. Siddiqui was wounded in a July 18 shooting incident and was also accused of attempting to harm US military personnel. Dr. Siddiqui’s lawyer described the charges as baseless and said that her “client was the ultimate victim of the dark side of America.”
At a hearing on Monday, a Manhattan federal magistrate-judge ordered Siddiqui, who appeared in court in a wheelchair, to get a physical examination within 24 hours. Her next court date was postponed until September. Her physical and mental state, when she was brought to the federal court, suggested that she had been in custody for several years and was treated as a detainee. Dr. Afia was reportedly not in a position to speak or even able to verbally respond to the court.
COPAA urges the government of Pakistan to provide legal and financial assistance to Dr. Siddiqui and file a petition in the US federal court for her immediate bail. Dr. Siddiqui must receive a fair trial in an open court. Pakistan must insist on an independent enquiry to establish how Dr. Siddiqui mysteriously disappeared five years ago, where she was kept, and how she suffered injuries while in custody.