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Pakistani Woman Facing 86 Years In U.S. Prison In Afghan Shooting Case

Pakistani activists of Pasban, a subgroup of hard-line Sunni party Jamaat-e-Islami, chant in support of Aafia Siddiqui in July.
A female Pakistani scientist has been sentenced to 86 years in prison -- effectively, a life sentence -- in the United States for the attempted murder of U.S. officers in Afghanistan.

Aafia Siddiqui, 38, a neuroscientist trained at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was sentenced on September 23 by a judge in New York City.

At the court hearing, Siddiqui asked her supporters to take her sentencing calmly and not commit violent acts in a bid to force her release.

Her defense lawyers have pledged to appeal the sentence, and the Pakistani government said legal and diplomatic efforts would continue to transfer Siddiqui to Pakistan.

News of Siddiqui's sentence led to anti-American protests in Pakistan, including in the northwestern city of Peshawar and in Siddiqui's home city of Karachi.

Siddiqui was found guilty in February of trying to shoot American servicemen in Afghanistan, in the town of Ghazni.

Prosecutors described her as an Al-Qaeda sympathizer who had grabbed a U.S. officer's rifle and opened fire on U.S. personnel who were seeking to interrogate her after her arrest by Afghan police in July 2008. Officials said Siddiqui's shots missed, and in a struggle she was shot by a U.S. soldier. She was later taken to the United States for trial.

Defense lawyers argued the shooting incident had no connection to terrorism.

compiled from agency reports