Efforts to silence Aafia Siddiqui continue

Efforts to silence Pakistani citizen Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, who is charged with attempted murder of US military and Federal Bureau of Investigation personnel, are continuing during her trial.

In a letter to the New York Federal judge presiding over her trial, Siddiqui’s defense team said that she is not mentally fit to testify.

In the letter, the lawyers said that they believe she suffers from “diminished capacity,” the NY Daily News reported on Tuesday.

“We feel it is our duty under relevant ethical rules to take protective action to safeguard her interests,” the letter read.

Siddiqui’s trial started on January 19, 2010.

See also:

Case against Aafia Siddiqui begins to unravel

My children were tortured, this trial is a sham: Aafia

‘US torturing females in Afghan prisons’

Rights groups seek Siddiqui extradition

On Monday, the US officer who shot Siddiqui, allegedly in self-defense, in Afghanistan in 2008, appeared in the court for testimony, The Huffington post reported.

The officer was part of a team dispatched to Afghanistan to negotiate her release into US custody.

He noted that he was attacked by Siddiqui at a moment when he had set aside his weapon.

The officer went on to say that he was shocked when Siddiqui suddenly appeared from behind a curtain wielding his M-4 rifle and yelling, “Allah Akbar,” Arabic for “God is great.”

The US officer said that he followed his military training and shot her in the stomach.

“I operated within the rules of engagement to eliminate the threat,” he said.

But Siddiqui blurted out at him at one point during the testimony. “I feel sorry for you.”

Siddiqui was also ejected from the courtroom twice for outbursts during the court proceedings on Monday.

She has insisted in previous courtroom session that she is innocent.

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.

US 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 US 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 then 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 US account of the event.

Many political activists believe she was Prisoner 650 of the US detention facility in Bagram, Afghanistan, where they say she was tortured for five years until one day US authorities announced that they had found her in Afghanistan.

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