ISLAMABAD: Human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith Tuesday said Dr Aafia Siddiqui — a Pakistani neuroscientist jailed in the United States for over a decade — has been sexually assaulted at least twice during her incarceration, in addition to the ill-treatment she was meted out at the Bagram jail in Afghanistan.
Speaking with Geo News, Smith, who represents Dr Aafia, said his client has been abused and tortured more often and that she informed him about the sexual assaults in a meeting. The counsel also mentioned that the Pakistani government was also aware of the two instances of sexual assault.
Smith’s comment pointed towards a report prepared by Aisha Farooqui, Pakistan’s former consul general in Houston, in 2018, citing the physical and sexual abuse that Dr Aafia was subjected to during her detention. The report also recommended diplomatic authorities take her case to the highest level and find a way to repatriate Dr Aafia.
Smith revealed that a sexual assault complaint was, therefore, filed on her behalf. “Dr Aafia was also sexually assaulted in Bagram jail,” he added. He further shared the details about the reason behind the assaults endured by his client at the United States-run prison in Afghanistan when the American military was based in the country and operating its bases on Afghan soil.
“Dr Aafia was sexually assaulted at Bagram as an interrogation tactic,” he said.
Dr Fowzia Siddiqui, who is currently in the US to meet her imprisoned sister at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Texas, confirmed that she was allowed to meet her sister for four hours “from a distance” and added that her sister’s health did not seem good.
Dr Fowzia quoted her imprisoned sister as saying that the prison staff would give her better treatment two days ahead of the scheduled meeting with her sister. However, she was not allowed to meet her according to the jail manual, Dr Fowzia added.
She added that another meeting might be arranged with her sister if Pakistani consul general persuades the authorities.
Earlier, Dr Aafia’s sister tweeted about being denied a meeting with hopes of getting to “hug” her sister. Earlier this year, the sisters met after 20 years when the elder Dr Fowzia visited her in June at a prison hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, US.
Upon her return to Pakistan, Dr Fowzia shared details of her sister’s condition during the imprisonment, adding that she could not recognise her during their first meeting. Dr Fowzia said: “Due to her condition, I could not even recognise her.”
She, along with Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) Senator Mushtaq and Smith, was in the United States where they were finally allowed to meet Dr Aafia.
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