Rushan Abbas was born in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province. After completing a biology degree at Xinjiang University, she came to the United States in 1989 to study plant pathology at Washington State University. She married a professor, had three children, and became a United States Citizen. Her presence on Radio Free Asia from 1998-2000, which launched a Uyghur language service, led to her being hired to work at Guantanamo as an interpreter for the Uyghur detainees. When the men were released, Rushan stayed with them in Bermuda for two weeks to help them to readjust before returning to the United States. She is now based in Washington D.C.