#AceNewsServices (Exclusive) – September 18 – NEW YORK: Pakistan-born neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui has become a rallying cry for militant groups demanding her release from a US prison. But in a little-noticed move she is trying to abandon her legal fight for freedom, saying the US court system is unjust.
Islamic militants in Syria, Algeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan have made Aafia’s release a condition for freeing certain foreign hostages. Islamic State, for example, proposed swapping American journalist James Foley for her, but he was executed after their demands, which also included an end to US airstrikes in Iraq, were not met.
A 42-year-old mother of three with degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University, Aafia is serving an 86-year sentence in a prison medical centre in Texas. A jury in 2010 convicted her of attempting to shoot and kill a group of FBI agents, US soldiers and interpreters who were about to interrogate her for alleged links to Al Qaeda.
Aafia, who during her trial interrupted proceedings repeatedly and at times was removed from the courtroom, wrote to US District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan on July 2 seeking to end her most recent appeal.
“I refuse to participate in this system of total injustice that has punished and tortured me repeatedly, and continues to do so, without my having committed a crime,” she wrote.
Aafia said she wanted to be sent home to Pakistan through diplomacy, not through the legal system. But her lawyer Robert Boyle told the judge he was concerned she did not fully understand that as a consequence of her request she might not have another opportunity to challenge her conviction.
US prosecutors were scheduled to respond to Aafia’s letter with their own letter by late on Wednesday. Aafia was likely unaware of the attempt by Islamic State to free her in a prisoner swap for Foley, Boyle told Reuters. Federal Medical Center Carswell severely restricts her contact with the outside world, he said.
Aafia already lost one appeal. In 2012, an appeals court rejected arguments that her trial was unfair and upheld her conviction.
Her latest appeal, filed in May, argues that Aafia received an unfair trial because she was not allowed to fire defence lawyers who were paid by the Pakistani government, and that US prosecutors failed to turn over important evidence.
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