NEW YORK – A U.S.-trained scientist from Pakistan accused of shooting at FBI agents and helping Al Qaeda vowed Thursday to boycott her January trial.
Aafia Siddiqui interrupted lawyers at her pretrial hearing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to announce that she did not plan to participate in her trial, scheduled for Jan. 19.
"I am boycotting this trial," she said. "I am innocent of all the charges and I can prove it, but I will not do it in this court."
Siddiqui was brought to the United States in August 2008 after she was accused of grabbing a U.S. Army officer's rifle in Afghanistan several weeks earlier and firing at U.S. soldiers and FBI agents.
She was shot in the abdomen in the fight and was charged with attempted murder and assault.
Lawyers for Siddiqui tried to convince the court that she was mentally incompetent to stand trial, citing in part her refusal to cooperate with lawyers and the reports of a psychologist who said she suffers from delusional disorder and depression.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman rejected that argument after prosecutors pointed to psychological reports that concluded she was faking mental illness.
Berman on Thursday rejected defense arguments aimed at tossing out charges against the 37-year-old woman that carry a potential minimum prison sentence of 30 years and a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Before he ruled on the request, Siddiqui said visits by her lawyers were "torture for me" and it was a waste of money for lawyers to go to Afghanistan to interview witnesses because she was not participating in the trial.
"I'm not dealing with them anymore," Siddiqui said of her lawyers. "They're just people coming to my door and talking, talking, talking."
During a break, Siddiqui was led out of the courtroom by U.S. marshals when she would not stop talking loudly. "Take me out," she said. "I'm not coming back."
She was not present when the judge made his decision.
Siddiqui is a specialist in neuroscience who trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University. She fled to her native Pakistan in 2003.