USC Students for Justice in Palestine

history, analysis, news, and event updates on the struggle for justice in palestine

The Latest on the Sami Al Arian Case

Posted by uscsjp on July 7, 2008

“WASHINGTON, Jul 2 (IPS) — Palestinian activist and former university professor Sami Al-Arian was arraigned Monday in U.S. federal court on two counts of criminal contempt for his refusal to testify in a grand jury investigation of a Northern Virginia Muslim think-tank.

The indictment is the latest episode of a long, Kafka-esque process that has violated nearly every tenet of Al-Arian’s plea agreement following the end of his first trial in 2005, and kept Al-Arian in prison for over five years.

‘The government has made a complete mockery of the plea agreement,’ Al-Arian’s attorney, Jonathon Turley, told IPS. ‘Dr. Al-Arian has received zero benefit from his plea agreement.’

Supporters of Al-Arian cited the charges as an attempt by an overzealous Justice Department prosecutor to keep Al-Arian behind bars indefinitely despite an inability to secure a jury conviction. There is no maximum penalty for criminal contempt.

‘The whole case against him is a vindictive act by sore losers that lost the Florida case badly because there was no evidence,’ Al-Arian’s daughter, Laila, told IPS. ‘So they’re manufacturing crimes to keep him in prison as long as possible. It’s almost as if the whole plea agreement was just a way to buy time.’

The indictment said that Al-Arian had refused to testify in violation of a court order. But Al-Arian’s defense holds that his subpoena was out of line with his original agreement, which included an express promise that Al-Arian did not have to cooperate further with the government.

On Monday, Al-Arian was moved from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) jail to the Alexandria courthouse where he was arraigned. He had been in ICE custody for over three months awaiting an expedited deportation as part of the 2005 plea.

In ICE prisons, which have been the target of frequent criticism for their harsh conditions, Al-Arian was only allowed one visitor per month. When arraigned on Monday, Al-Arian and his defense did not enter a plea because they had not had the chance to discuss the charges yet, Turley wrote on his blog. The court entered a not guilty plea…”

–Ali Gharib, IPS News

Posted on July 3, 2008, Printed on July 7, 2008


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