[Pnews] No faith in American justice: Aafia Siddiqui withdraws her appeal of 86-year prison term

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Oct 10 15:53:55 EDT 2014

  No faith in American justice: Aafia Siddiqui withdraws her appeal of
  86-year prison term

Published time: October 10, 2014 16:01

Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui has withdrawn what is likely the 
final appeal of her conviction for attempted murder of American agents 
in Afghanistan. Islamist militants have attempted to free Siddiqui in 
prisoner swaps with the United States.

US District Judge Richard Berman acknowledged the withdrawal on 
Thursday, saying Dr. Siddiqui had /"clearly and unequivocally"/ 
requested an end to the appeal process. He ordered the case closed, 
adding that he would likely have ruled against Siddiqui anyway, Reuters 

Berman wrote that she had adequate legal counsel and that he would not 
seek a hearing to further question her.

Siddiqui, 42, is being held in a prison medical center in Texas where 
she is serving an 86-year sentence for allegedly shooting 
<http://rt.com/usa/siddiqui-political-human-rights/> at FBI agents, US 
soldiers and interpreters who sought to interrogate her in Ghazni, 
Afghanistan for supposed links to Al-Qaeda. Shot in the abdomen, she was 
the only person wounded in the encounter.

There are conflicting 
reports as to what led to Siddiqui's trial. She was believed to have 
been married to Ammar Al-Baluchi, the nephew of alleged 9/11 mastermind 
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. In 2003, Al-Baluchi was taken into US custody, 
and Siddiqui was later placed on the FBI's 'Most Wanted' list for being 
an alleged Al-Qaeda operative. That year, she disappeared with her three 
children. The US said she was at large, helping Al-Qaeda plot attacks. 
Siddiqui's family and supporters, though, say she was detained and 
endured five years of torture at the US prison at Bagram Air Base in 
Afghanistan. In 2008, US officials announced Siddiqui's arrest and 
charged her with assaulting US military personnel.

A jury found Siddiqui guilty in 2010. Her legal team had argued for an 
acquittal based on a lack of evidence that her rifle had fired. In 2012, 
an appeals court affirmed the conviction and sentence, rejecting claims 
that she had not received a fair trial.

In May, a newly-appointed lawyer for Siddiqui filed the appeal of her 
conviction. Yet in July, Siddiqui directly appealed to Berman, stating 
in a letter that she had no faith in the US legal system and did not 
want to press further appeal.

Siddiqui was educated in the US, holding degrees from the Massachusetts 
Institute of Technology and Brandeis University. She is a mother of three.

Several Islamic militant groups have attempted to compel Siddiqui's 
release through prisoner swaps. In August 
<http://rt.com/usa/182928-american-hostage-islamic-state/>, Islamic 
State, the extremist group currently the target of US-led airstrikes in 
Syria and Iraq, offered to release an American hostage in exchange for 
Siddiqui, among other demands that were all ultimately denied.

In urging her release, Islamist groups have often cited allegations made 
by Siddiqui's family that she was raped and tortured at Bagram Air Force 

Siddiqui, also known as the 'Lady Al-Qaeda' and the 'Grey Lady of 
Bagram,' is unlikely to be allowed another appeal at this point barring 
extraordinary circumstances, such as new-found evidence. Thus, she might 
not understand the ramifications of her appeal withdrawal, wrote Robert 
Boyle - her attorney that filed the appeal on her behalf in May - to 
Judge Berman last month.

According to Reuters, Boyle said last month that Siddiqui was likely 
unaware of the Islamic State swap proposal when she withdrew the appeal, 
and that given those circumstances, her actions should not be held 
against her.

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