Pakistani drone victims' lawyer blocked from Capitol Hill

By Natasha Lennard for

Reprieve's Shahzad Akbar claims his visa was held up by U.S. to derail hearing on CIA drone attacks

British human rights group Reprieve is claiming that the U.S. purposefully blocking a Pakistani lawyer who represents drone strike victims from speaking on Capitol Hill.

Reporting for the Guardian, Ryan Devereux noted Tuesday that the lawyer, Shahzad Akbar — a legal fellow with Reprieve — believes his visa to enter the U.S. has been held up for political reasons:

The U.S. government is being accused of derailing a congressional hearing that would be the first to hear testimony from survivors of an alleged CIA drone strike by failing to grant the family’s lawyer a visa.

Shahzad Akbar, a legal fellow with the British human rights group Reprieve and the director of the Pakistan-based Foundation for Fundamental Rights, says the state department is preventing him from taking his clients to Capitol Hill next week. The hearing would mark the first time US lawmakers heard directly from drone strike survivors.

Akbar’s clients, Rafiq ur-Rehman, his 13-year-old son, Zubair, and his nine-year-old daughter, Nabila, are from the tribal regions of north Waziristan. The children were injured in the alleged US strike on the village of Tappi last year. Their grandmother – Rehman’s mother, Mamana – was killed.

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