Protests in Pakistan against Aafia Siddiqui’s 86-year prison sentence in U.S.

September 25th, 2010 - 12:51 am ICT by BNO News  

KARACHI, PAKISTAN (BNO NEWS) — A series of protests hit the streets of Pakistan on Friday after a U.S. court in New York on Thursday issued Pakistani scientist Aafia Siddiqui a prison sentence of 86 years for attempted murder, local media said.

Hundreds of people demonstrated in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi, although most of their anger was reportedly directed to Pakistani officials for not intervening in the case.

According to reports, protests got into a push and shove battle with local authorities in Islamabad as they tried to reach the U.S. Embassy. In Karachi, where Siddiqui’s family lives, police had to fire gunshots in the air and tear gas in order to disperse the crowd as they began throwing stones at officers and approaching the U.S. consulate.

Siddiqui, 38, a neuroscientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was found guilty in February and later sentenced for trying to kill U.S. government officials and Afghan personnel in Afghanistan in 2009. She was detained in 2008 and as officials questioned her, she took a weapon from one of her captors and opened fire against the officials.

Siddiqui was called an al-Qaeda sympathizer by New York prosecutors, who sought a life sentence against her, while her lawyers argued she was mentally ill and that there was no evidence showing she took the weapon.

BBC’s Syed Shoaib Hasan in Karachi says many questions about Aafia Siddiqui remain unanswered as there is a five-year dissapearance between 2003 and 2008. Along with her three children, she was unaccounted for during that time, and only one of her children has since been traced. Some Pakistanis believe that with the assistance of Pakistani security agencies, U.S. authorities kidnapped her, but both countires have denied those allegations.

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