The Injustice Continues: New Indictment Brought Against Political Prisoner Sami Al-Arian
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ALEXANDRIA - The Bush Administration' s persecution of Dr. Sami Al Arian reached new heights on Thursday when prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia brought charges against him, entering a new phase in the politically-motivated campaign of the past five years.
The indictment charges Dr. Al-Arian with two counts of criminal contempt, relating to two attempts by Virginia prosecutors to bring him before a grand jury investigating other Muslim organizations.
Dr. Al-Arian had already been held in civil contempt for more than one year for his refusal to testify. A plea agreement signed with Florida prosecutors following his 2005 acquittal protected him from cooperating in any additional cases. It was intended to bring his case to a close by allowing him to leave the country. Two federal courts have refused to allow evidentiary hearings that would allow the plea agreement to be enforced.
Even with the additional time served, Dr. Al-Arian's sentence ended on April 7 of this year. He was then taken into the custody of immigration authorities who were making preparations for his deportation.
In the midst of that process, the Bush Administration made its last ditch effort to continue its punishment of Dr. Al-Arian by bringing new charges against him. He now faces additional prison time if convicted. Criminal contempt is the only charge in American law that has no maximum penalty.
"This indictment proves that the government was never interested in any information that Dr. Al-Arian has on the IIIT matter," his attorney, Professor Jonathan Turley, wrote on his blog. IIIT or the International Institute of Islamic Thought is the Muslim think tank that is the target of a six-year witch-hunt by a prosecutor based in Virginia. "This was a classic perjury trap used repeatedly by the government to punish those individuals who could not be convicted before an American jury."
He continues: "They have indicted him despite the fact that the prosecutors admitted that he is a minor witness in the IIIT investigation and he has already given two detailed statements under oath to the government and offered to take a polygraph examination to prove that he has given true information about his knowledge of IIIT.
Dr. Al-Arian has addressed every document cited by the government as the reason for his being called before the grand jury. He has shown that he has no incriminating information to offer against either IIIT or its officers."
Read Turley's entire statement.
These charges follow a string of abuses by a rogue prosecutor whose actions appear to be politically motivated. Assistant US Attorney Gordon Kromberg's bigoted remarks against Arabs and Muslims have been widely publicized in the media and condemned by leading human rights organizations. His actions have resulted in the unjust prosecution of many American Muslim activists, including at least one case of a perjury trap similar to that faced by Dr. Al-Arian.
This indictment is only the latest in what has become the standard by which the Bush Justice Department operates. After refusing to honor the agreement it reached with Dr. Al-Arian in April 2006, it never approached the grand jury process in good faith either. As Dr. Al-Arian's attorney has revealed, prosecutors were not interested in obtaining any information, but only used the grand jury subpoenas as a means by which to bring new charges against him and keep him imprisoned. These actions signal an erosion of the justice system, much to the dismay of all Americans who trust their officials will carry out the law on an impartial and depoliticized basis.
All concerned Americans are urged to continue their protest of the abuses committed by the Bush Administration in their name. We ask that you write to the Attorney General about the injustices suffered by Dr. Al-Arian. We also ask that you contact your representatives in Congress and members of the Judiciary Committee, requesting that they investigate the actions of the rogue prosecutor. Please check www.freesamialarian.com for more information and updates regarding the new charges against Dr. Al-Arian.
Also see the Washington Post article: "Former Professor Indicted In Muslim Charities Case" by Jerry Markon, Friday, June 27, 2008
We encourage you to write letters to the editor of the Washington Post about Dr. Al-Arian's case, expressing your outrage about the new charges:
The e-mail address is email@example.com. Do not send attachments; they will not be read.
To contribute to Dr. Al-Arian's legal defense, please send checks to:
National Liberty Fund
P.O. Box 1211
24525 E. Welches Road
Welches, OR 97067