Ns News Online Desk: KARACHI: The family of Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist jailed in the US on terror charges, has expressed fears for her life following reports of physical and sexual abuse by prison staff.
Siddiqui, 46, was convicted in 2010 of seven counts of attempted murder and assault of US personnel in Afghanistan. She is serving an 86-year jail term at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas.
Claims of abuse by prison staff surfaced in a confidential Pakistani consul-general’s report leaked to Arab News.On May 23, Pakistan’s consul-general in Houston, Aisha Farooqui, met Siddiqui, who complained about physical and sexual abuse by prison staff.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson, Dr. Mohammed Faisal, confirmed that the Pakistan consul-general in Houston had informed Islamabad about her meeting with Siddiqui.
“Dr. Aafia Siddiqui has informed our consul-general about her oppression in jail,” he said during a press briefing in Islamabad on Thursday.
Faisal said that Pakistan had told US authorities about the “inhuman conduct” handed out to Siddiqui. “She was constantly disturbed in her room and her privacy was consistently violated by jail staff who harassed her, threatened her and attempted to sexually abuse her on a number of occasions,” Farooqui wrote in his report, a copy of which was leaked to Arab News.
Siddiqui’s sister, Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui, told Arab News: “The leaking of this report will jeopardize Aafia’s life further as the prison guards will turn more vengeful.
“No words can describe the pain this report has inflicted on our hearts. No words can describe our agony,” she said.
Farooqui said Siddiqui had claimed that staff “barged into her room, confiscated her belongings, made fun of her and even snatched her scarf off her head.”
The consul-general has recommended Islamabad seek a US Department of Justice inquiry into Siddiqui’s claims.
“We are aware of these allegations,” a US Embassy spokesperson said.
“Consistent with the protections afforded individuals under the US Constitution and other applicable US law, the United States treats all convicted prisoners humanely and in a manner that complies with our international human rights obligations,” the official said.