A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] on Thursday sentenced Aafia Siddiqui [JURIST news archive], a Pakistani woman convicted [JURIST report] of attempting to murder US personnel at the Afghan facility where she was being held, to 86 years in prison. Prosecutors claimed [indictment, PDF] that, while in US custody in Afghanistan, Siddiqui lunged for and grabbed an unsecured M-4 rifle and opened fire on her captors. US personnel returned fire, injuring Siddiqui. Siddiqui denied both handling the weapon and attacking the personnel. In addition to two counts of attempted murder, the jury found Siddiqui guilty of armed assault against US officers and employees, using and carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, and assault against US officers and employees. Siddiqui will serve her sentence in Texas [CNN report], at the facility she was held at while awaiting trial.
At the start of her trial, in January, Siddiqui had to be removed from court [JURIST report] because she began screaming and protesting her innocence. She underwent a psychiatric evaluation and was judged fit to stand trial [JURIST report] last year. Siddiqui, who was extradited to the US in August 2008, was shot in the abdomen during the July 2008 skirmish leading to her charges. Siddiqui's family has insisted that she is innocent and that the FBI publicized misleading information about her. They say that Siddiqui, a former student at Brandeis University and MIT in Boston, may have been a victim of extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] after she vanished from Karachi, Pakistan, in 2003. Defense lawyers alleged that Siddiqui may have been wrongly detained and tortured at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. Siddiqui was originally taken into custody in July 2008 after she was found loitering outside a provincial governor's compound with suspicious items in her handbag.