Afghanistan hands over son of Pakistani scientist detained by US"

Other News Materials 15 September 2008 15:38 (UTC +04:00)

Afghan authorities on Monday handed over the son of a Pakistani scientist allegedly linked to al-Qaeda held in US custody to Pakistan's embassy in Kabul, officials said.

Aafia Siddiqui, 36, a US-educated neuroscientist, has been charged in a Manhattan court with assault on and attempted murder of her US investigators. She was arrested in Afghanistan's Ghazni province on July 17.

Siddiqui's 11-year-old son, Ali Hassan, also known as Muhammad Ahmad, was with his mother when she was detained while allegedly carrying designs for explosive devices and descriptions of US landmarks in her handbag, reported dpa.

"Afghan Foreign Ministry official Daud Panjshiri handed over Ali Hassan to Pakistan's Charge d'Affairs Muhammad Daud at around 10:30 am (0500 GMT)," Pakistan embassy spokesman Muhammad Naeem told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa by phone.

"The child is in good health," said Naeem, adding that the mission was making efforts to send Hassan to Pakistan "at the earliest."

Siddiqui, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and mother of three, refused to appear in the federal court in New York earlier this month to protest against her humiliating treatment and traumatized condition.

US Attorney Michael J Gracia had accused Siddiqui of grabbing rifle of a US warrant officer and firing shots on a team of FBI agents and US military personnel who arrived at a detention centre to interrogate her on July 18.

She failed to hit any of the US personnel but one of the two shots fired by the warrant officer with his service pistol hit Siddiqui in the torso.

Siddiqui was indicted in absentia for five counts of attempted murder and assault and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on each count.

She went missing in March 2003 along with her three children in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi. Her family alleged that she was picked up by Pakistani intelligence agents after the FBI issued an alert because of her alleged links with al-Qaeda.

It was widely believed that the Pakistani intelligence agencies handed her over to US authorities who supposedly kept her at a detention centre close to the Afghan capital Kabul in the following years.

Allegations also appeared in the media that she was exposed to severe torture and even rape during her days at the detention centre at Bagram airbase.

She surfaced again in Ghazni following an intensive campaign by human rights organizations for her recovery and a petition filed in a Pakistani court.

The whereabouts of her two other children, a son and a daughter, are still unknown.