Andy Worthington Speaks at Event in London Marking Two Years Since Aafia Siddiqui’s Barbaric 86-Year Sentence


I’m sorry to report that it’s two years since the Pakistani neuroscientist Dr. Aafia Siddiqui received an 86-year sentence in a court in New York for allegedly having tried and failed to shoot the US soldiers in whose custody she was being held in Afghanistan in August 2008. There is a protest outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square tomorrow afternoon — September 23 — at which I’ll be speaking, along with many other people, so if you’re in London please come along. See a map here, and the Facebook page here.

The trial of Aafia Siddiqui, which culminated in her sentence, and which I described at the time as “barbaric,” appeared to be a cover for a much grimmer story — one of the darkest in the whole of the torture-filled “war on terror” — in which, on the basis of alleged connections with terrorism that have never been proved, she had disappeared with her children in Pakistan in March 2003 and was then held in a “black site” until her engineered reappearance in Ghazni in 2008.

According to the US authorities, after being captured in a bewildered state, she allegedly tried and failed to shoot the Americans guarding her, which provided an excuse to render her to the US to be put on trial — an unusual move given that most people accused of anti-American activities in Afghanistan did not end up in the US — and for her to be silenced as a result of the 86-year sentence handed down after a trial that critics called “a grave miscarriage of justice,” and to be held in isolation in a psychiatric prison/hospital for women in Carswell, Texas, notoriously referred to as the “hospital of horrors”, where her health continues to deteriorate, and where she is denied meaningful contact with her family.

I have written extensively about the troubling case of Aafia Siddiqui over the last four years, and have spoken at a number of events organised by the Justice for Aafia Coaltion, which is responsible for Sunday’s event. For further information, see the International Justice Network’s 2011 report, “Aafia Siddiqui: Just the Facts.”

As time passes, the only reassuring news is that several significant figures have very publicly expressed their disgust at Aafia’s plight, and the severity of her sentence. Recently, for example, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark visited Pakistan and stated, “Justice demands that Aafia Siddiqui should immediately be released. I haven’t witnessed such bare injustice in my entire career.” In addition, Khurshid Kasuri, Pakistan’s foreign minister under Pervez Musharraf, the President at the time of Aafia’s disappearance, has stated, “I’m so sorry for handing over the innocent Dr. Aafia Siddiqui to the Americans. It was my biggest mistake ever.”

Furthermore, just this week US Senator Mike Gravel, accompanied by the attorney Tina Foster of the International Justice Network, also visited Pakistan, where, as the Express Tribune described it, they “said that the Musharraf regime had illegally kidnapped Dr. Aafia along with her three children from Karachi in March 2003, and handed her over to the US government for illegal interrogation and secret detention based on completely false information.” The Express Tribune added that Sen. Gravel “maintained that Dr Aafia’s trial in the United States was illegal,” and “added that the US government had no moral or legal justification for their actions.”

Both he and Tina Foster stressed, however, that the Pakistani government “would have to take serious action if it wanted Dr. Siddiqui to be repatriated.” Foster said, “We have received no cooperation from the Government of Pakistan in securing Dr Siddiqui’s repatriation to Pakistan. There’s been a lot of talk, but no concrete steps have been taken despite numerous requests for assistance.” She added, “I’ve come on a humanitarian mission to ask Pakistani leadership for its assistance in returning Dr. Siddiqui to Pakistan. It’s obvious that the will of the Pakistani people is being ignored by their leadership.”

Sen. Gravel also stated, “Dr. Siddiqui is not a US citizen, so the US government should not be left to determine her fate, she should be returned to Pakistan so that she can begin to recover from the horrible torture and abuse that she has suffered.”

Below is the planned timing for the event. For further information, please email

3.00-3.05 Introduction
3.05-3.15 Sultan Sabri
3.15-3.25 Andy Worthington
3.25-3.35 Omar Hajaj
3.35-3.45 Lauren Booth
3.45-3.55 Faisal Hanjara
3.55-4.05 Abdullah Hasan
4.05-4.15 Sheikh Khalid al Fikri
4.15-4.25 Sheikh Suliman Gani
4.25-4.35 Ilyas Townsend
4.35-4.40 Taji Mustafa
4.40-4.50 Adnan Rashid
4.50-5.00 Hamza Tzorztis
5.00-5.10 Uthman Lateef
5.20 Conclusion

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

11 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Andrew Brel wrote:

    Its a curious story – especially her allegation that domestic groups in the US were behind 911. The wiki page seems quite comprehensive.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Andrew. Yes, you’re right about the Wikipedia page. It is very thorough.

  3. noor says...

    Please do save her . I wish all Muslims should have heart and courage like u people .
    We are Muslim by names but u people are Muslim by words and actions . I wish one day I will also finally join your team to help and guide people and infact myself

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the comments, Noor!

  5. omar rahman says...

    If any one has not seen them…these two films re 9/11 and 7/7 are essential viewing in my opinion:

    Loose Change re 9/11

    Crime and prejudice re 7/7

  6. This day in 2010 Richard Berman Condemned Aafia to 86 Years of Isolation – Aafia Movement says...

    […] Mr. Worthington's full posting can be viewed here […]

  7. A Reflection from British Author and Commentator, Andy Worthington: – Aafia Movement says...

    […] Worthington's full posting can be viewed here Tweet (function() { var li = document.createElement('script'); li.type = […]

  8. Andy Worthington Speaks at Event in London Marking Two Years Since Aafia Siddiqui’s Barba – Aafia Movement says...

    […] Worthington's full posting can be viewed here Tweet (function() { var li = document.createElement('script'); li.type = […]

  9. anayat says...

    sir, people like you can save her who has the courage, confidence and competencies. plz save her and people like her without taking cast and creed but just for humanity who is the combined message of every religion.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Anayat, for the kind words.

  11. Altaf Shakoor says...

    Dear Andy Worthington : I have gone through the article on Aafia – You have the courage to speak the truth. You and few others like former Attorney General USA Hon. Mr. Ramsey Clark, former US presidential candidate (2008) Senator Mike Gravel, Human Rights Activist Sara Founders etc. have made me to realise that all is not wrong and there are people in the United States who are against the injustice and trying their best to correct the wrongs. I will circulate your article in millions through an email marketing company. Thanks for your time and efforts for Aafia’s release.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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