Pakistan Denies Bail for Iconic 'Afghan Girl'

Sharbat Gula, of 'National Geographic' cover fame, charged with impersonating a Pakistani
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2016 7:33 AM CDT
Pakistan Denies Bail for Iconic 'Afghan Girl'
In this file photo taken Oct. 26, 2016, the owner of a Pakistani book shop shows a copy of "National Geographic" with the photograph of Afghan refugee woman Sharbat Gula.   (AP Photo/BK Bangash, File)

In 1985, the green-eyed "Afghan Girl" became famous worldwide as the haunting cover model for National Geographic. In 2016, Sharbat Gula (spelled Gulla in some sources) is making headlines once again after she was arrested last week in Pakistan for allegedly harboring fake ID papers—and this week, a Pakistani court denied her bail, Australia's ABC News and Al Jazeera report. Although Gula, who reportedly is suffering from hepatitis C, denies the charges, a Peshawar judge said "she impersonated herself as [a] Pakistani citizen without legally adopting the status of same," per Al Jazeera.

The broadcaster notes the Pakistani government has been coming down hard on Afghan refugees lately, millions of whom ended up there after the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Per CNN, a human rights lawyer says Gula could be deported or face 14 years in prison if convicted. Meanwhile, Steve McCurry, the photographer who took the iconic photo of a 12-year-old Gula in a refugee camp, has said he'll help her out any way he can and has been advocating for her release on social media, posting pictures of her and calling the widowed mother of four "the symbol of refugees for decades." (National Geographic's fascinating 2002 story on Gula.)

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