Dr. Afia Update: Yet mainstream media continues its misinformation camapignJanuary 26, 2010
TIME magazine does a decent job of pointing out that no Pakistani reporters are being allowed in the courtroom, even though she is not charged with terrorism. However, they also continue to misinform the public as shown in the first line of their article:
“Aafia Siddiqui may be a minor light in the constellation of alleged al-Qaeda operatives, but her New York City trial may be a test case for the way justice is meted out to one of the major figures accused of running the terror organization. ”
Judge Rules Not to Link Aafia to Qaeda, as She Announces Boycott
A US judge Wednesday barred prosecutors from linking Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist, to al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organization during her trial scheduled to begin January 19.
The ruling came as the jury selection process began in the US. District Court in Manhattan. On Monday, the prosecution had informed the court that it will not contest any ruling which absolves Dr. Siddique, charged with shooting at her US interrogators in Afghanistan, of any terrorist links.
However, Judge Richard Berman ruled Wednesday that any hand written material seized from her possession will be admitted as evidence, but the printed material will not be entertained. The defence lawyers had sought the exclusion of any material founded on her, and to focus on the shooting incident.
A Pakistani on Trial- With no Pakistani Reporters
Aafia Siddiqui may be a minor light in the constellation of alleged al-Qaeda operatives, but her New York City trial may be a test case for the way justice is meted out to one of the major figures accused of running the terror organization. Siddiqui is a U.S.-trained, Pakistani neuroscientist charged with attempted murder for allegedly firing an M-4 automatic rifle at a group of U.S. soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan. Her case has been major news in much of the Muslim world – and a crush of journalists from Pakistan have been struggling to gain access to a trial hemmed in by security-conscious New York City officials. How the foreign press is able to follow the court proceedings – and thus perceive the fairness of the trial – will have an impact on upcoming high-profile terrorism trials like that of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other suspected 9/11 plotters, likely to be held in the same courthouse as the Siddiqui case.
“If we were able to file a transcript of the proceedings they’d probably print it,” Iftikhar Ali, a reporter with the Associated Press of Pakistan, said of the Siddiqui trial. “That’s how much interest there is in this case.” But Ali, like many other reporters from overseas, has been hampered in gaining access to the live proceedings. Journalists from Pakistan on assigment in New York have been largely excluded from the courtroom. Because of tight restrictions observed by the presiding Judge Richard Berman, not a single Pakistani reporter had been granted a press credential when opening statements began on Tuesday. They were instead sent to an overflow courtroom to watch the proceedings via video link. Read more here…
Two jurors were excused from the case after they informed Judge Richard Berman that they were approached by a public supporter of Siddiqui’s. An eyewitness in the gallery described the man as a Pakistani male wearing white turban. It was reported that he approached two of the jurors to ask them how the case was going. He was arrested and was taken out of the building in handcuffs.
Judge Richard Berman declined the defense attorney’s application to remove enhanced security on the grounds that it prejudices the jury. In his ruling Judge Berman cited both the incident of the individual approaching the jury and members of the defense team bringing in an additional cell phone as reasons for the denial. It is not uncommon to have additional security in high profile cases; he cited the high profile case of Martha Stewart which also drew a large amount of public interest. Read more here
The US federal court in Manhattan heard Aafia Siddiqui and 5 other witnesses. Dr. Aafia told the court that she is being misrepresented by the prosecutor’s statement regarding the things she has said about America, that only negative thoughts are being portrayed. Read more here..