Aafia Siddiqi supporters hold anti-US rally in Islamabad

An anti-US rally was held in Islamabad on Monday protesting the US Federal Court verdict convicting Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui.

On February 8, a 12-member New York jury convicted Siddiqui, a mother of three and a graduate of the prestigious American university, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, of attempted murder. She had been charged with shooting at her interrogators in Afghanistan in 2008.

Siddiqui, 37, could receive a life sentence at the sentencing hearing scheduled for May 6.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered the government to provide legal assistance to Siddiqui. The Lahore High Court has also asked the Pakistani Foreign Ministry to make every effort to secure her release.

Many Pakistanis believe Washington fabricated the charges against the Pakistani scientist, who insisted during her trial that she was being framed and described the prosecution’s allegations against her as ‘ridiculous.’

Some human rights groups suspect that Siddiqui was imprisoned in a secret US prison well before the 2008 incident, a charge that US authorities deny.

Amid the growing public anger, scores of Pakistanis have taken to the streets of the country since her conviction last week, calling for Siddiqui’s immediate release.

Shortly after the verdict was announced, Siddiqui categorically denied all the charges against her, emphasizing that she was set up, jailed, and tortured by US agents in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“This is a verdict from Israel, not America. The anger should be directed where it belongs,” Siddiqui declared after the court read the judgment against her.

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