This post is a crosspost from Jayeless, and has been backdated to the date on which I posted it. It can be found in its original location at Jayeless » Aafia Siddiqui.
Yesterday I read about the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who was found guilty of the attempted murder of her American interrogators in a New York court.
Reading that article, it seemed fairly obvious that the case didn't stack up. In 2003, Aafia Siddiqui went missing, with no (public) record of her whereabouts for the next five years. The next the public record knows of her, she was arrested by Americans in Afghanistan in 2008.
US military personnel argues that they were interrogating her in Afghanistan when she picked up an unattended gun, and started shooting at them. She didn't manage to hit a single soldier, but they sure got her, and then they hauled her back to the US to try her for attempted murder.
Forensic evidence suggests that the gun she ostensibly fired was never fired by her, nor even fired at all. Furthermore, common sense suggests that US soldiers wouldn't have left loaded guns lying around unattended where their prisoner would be able to reach them.
Aafia Siddiqui also says that during her five years of imprisonment, she was held in a secret US prison in Afghanistan. This is denied by both the US and the Pakistani authorities, but it is not exactly hard to believe. Evidence about her whereabouts during that time was disallowed from the trial, according to Al Jazeera, which would seem to suggest that wherever she was, US authorities don't want people to know.
Al Jazeera's article is also good in that it focuses much more attention on the response to this bizarre verdict. The Pakistani government is trying to work out how they can bring her back to Pakistan, Pakistanis are furious and burning American flags, and Siddiqui's family are saying how proud they are to be related to a victim of the US justice system.
I also read Fox News's article on the case -- not because I thought it'd actually tell me anything useful, but because I was curious to see how they'd (mis?)represent it. Their article was actually grabbed from the Associated Press, but judging by their headline (Pakistani Scientist Convicted of Trying to Kill Americans), they do not want to convey any possibility that Aafia Siddiqui might be innocent.
This article takes great pleasure in describing Siddiqui's outbursts during her trial -- for instance, declaring that she couldn't get a fair trial if there were any Jews on the jury, and declaring once the verdict was announced, "This is a verdict coming from Israel, not America." (The BBC mentioned that too, but were more reasonable about it.) They devote space to relaying one soldier's account of the incident -- how scared the poor little defenceless soldiers were when their prisoner grabbed a gun, and so on. And then you have lovely quotes like,
These charges are no joke. People almost died.
And sure, her outbursts seem to be counter-factual and racist. That doesn't make her guilty of attempted murder, and it doesn't mean she deserves to have been found guilty.
According to the BBC, prosecutors also argued that when Siddiqui was arrested, she was carrying a list of instructions of how to make a bomb, and a list of potential targets (e.g. the Statue of Liberty). If the real issue is that US authorities think she was planning a terrorist attack, she should have been charged with and tried for plotting a terrorist attack. The authorities should have found evidence to support that charge.
All this stuff about how she hated Americans, Israelis and Jews doesn't change the fact that there is no evidence to suggest she's actually guilty of the crime of which she's been convicted. There's no proof the gun was ever fired, none of the soldiers were harmed (even though she was), and let's keep in mind that the US criminal justice system is supposed to evaluate whether she is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. There is a ton of doubt here, more than a reasonable amount. And if she really has spent five years locked in a secret US-run jail in Afghanistan, is it any wonder she hates the US? It's not that I agree with what she said in her outbursts, but I can understand why she'd be so angry.
Basically, if she actually committed a crime, she should have been charged with that crime. It only undermines the US's own ideals to trump up charges against people they don't like. It's not exactly shocking, in that the US violates their own supposed ideals all the time, but they really ought to stop.