NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Pakistani woman suspected of links to al Qaeda and accused of trying to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan was granted access to urgent medical attention by a U.S. judge on Monday.
Aafia Siddiqui, 36, a U.S.-trained neuroscientist from Pakistan, resurfaced last week after being declared missing for five years by human rights groups. She was flown by the United States to New York from Afghanistan and charged with attempting to kill and assault U.S. officers.
A frail-looking Siddiqui appeared in a wheelchair at a hearing held in Manhattan federal court and instead of discussing bail as planned, her lawyers said she was in dire need of medical care.
That was granted by U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman, who ordered she be seen by a physician within 24 hours.
Siddiqui was shot in the abdomen and wounded last month while allegedly trying to fire on a group of U.S. troops who had come to question her in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province.
“She is complaining of abdominal pain. She understands she lost part of an intestine,” said her lawyer Elaine Sharp, adding Siddiqui had large stitches down her torso from major surgery and may be suffering from internal bleeding.
The lead lawyer on her team, Elizabeth Fink, said: “She has been here, judge, for one week and she has not seen a doctor, even though they (U.S. authorities) know she has been shot.”
U.S. prosecutor Christopher LaVigne told the court it was “a complicated situation,” and because of her alleged recent attack she was considered a “high-security risk.”
Siddiqui’s lawyers have said they believe she was secretly detained since March 2003, when she left her parents’ home in Karachi to visit her uncle in Islamabad. On Monday they said they could no longer discuss details of the case.
In 2004, she was identified by the FBI as an “al Qaeda operative and facilitator who posed a clear and present danger to America.”
Siddiqui was married to a nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who helped plan the September 11 attacks by al Qaeda militants. Her husband was captured in 2003 and is now held at the U.S. military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Outside court, about 20 protesters held posters including “Stop U.S. Torture, close Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib & Bagram” and accused the United States of secretly detaining Siddiqui.
Lawyers for Siddiqui, who is being held without bail, said last week she appeared confused and did not know where she had been, except to claim that she was held captive by unknown authorities in a small room.
The next hearing was scheduled for September 3., the deadline for when prosecutors can indict Siddiqui.
Reporting by Christine Kearney; Editing by John O’Callaghan
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