- Earlier articles explained his ordeal, a man Bush administration
prosecutors hounded, persecuted, and imprisoned on bogus charges. Articles
on him can be accessed through the following links:
- Though free on bail, Al-Arian remains politically imprisoned
like many hundreds of others behind bars. Because of his faith, ethnicity,
prominence and political activism, he was accused of supporting "terrorism"
and other outrageous charges.
- In fact, he's a Palestinian refugee, a distinguished
professor, scholar, community leader, and civil activist, a man deserving
honor, not incarceration doing hard time until released after five and
half years of brutal treatment, including solitary confinement in rat and
- He was denied religious services, got no watch or clock,
and was kept in windowless cells with artificial lights kept on round the
clock. Whenever outside his cell, he was also shackled hands behind back
and ankles. In protest, he staged hunger strikes, long enough to endanger
- A Brief Timeline of His Case
- FBI investigations hounded him for 11 years, spending
millions of dollars for half a million phone wiretaps, searches and other
forms of harassment.
- Events came to a head at 5AM on February 20, 2003 when
FBI agents and Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) officers stormed his home
guns drawn. They arrested him and three others separately on spurious charges
of supporting terrorism, conspiracy to commit murder, racketeering, giving
material support to an outlawed group, extortion, perjury, and other offenses
proved bogus in court.
- On February 27, University of South Florida president
Judy Genshaft fired him, acting as a Bush administration stooge.
- At his four day March bail hearing, prosecutors provided
no evidence, witnesses, or any reason to hold him. Nonetheless, he and
co-defendant Sameeh Hammoudeh were denied bail.
- On March 27, he was incarcerated at maximum security
federal penitentiary, Coleman, FL after initially held in jail. Later he
was transferred repeatedly to other federal prisons.
- In June 2005, his trial began. It was a witch-hunt travesty
with phony evidence, the kind prosecutors use when they have none. Despite
spending around $50 million for years of investigations and six months
of trial, jurors exonerated him on eight serious charges, remaining deadlocked
10 - 2 for acquittal on nine lesser ones.
- On March 2, 2006, fearing retrial, he agreed to plead
guilty to one minor charge, be freed, then reunited with his family and
deported. But it didn't end there.
- Assistant prosecutor Gordon Kromberg ordered him before
a grand jury, violating terms of his plea bargain. Fearing entrapment,
he refused, was held in contempt, again imprisoned, and sentenced to 18
months without mitigation - a clear effort to keep hounding and imprison
- At the time, his attorney, Professor Jonathan Turley,
called the Justice Department's ploy "a classic perjury trap used
repeatedly by the government to punish those individuals who could not
be convicted before an American jury."
- Al-Arian appealed and remained imprisoned until released
on bail on September 2, 2008 under house arrest, pending trial for criminal
contempt. For the first time in over five years, he was reunited with his
family, but his ordeal continues.
- On October 29, 2010, a new hearing will be held before
federal Judge Leonie Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia to decide
whether criminal contempt charges will be pursued or dropped.
- Under Obama, prosecutors are as ruthlessly corrupted
as their predecessors, using every trick in the book to convict, whether
guilty or innocent, and when trials are politically motivated, intensifying
pressure even more. The Justice Department thus filed a motion to deny
a defense one, filed 18 months earlier to dismiss criminal contempt charges.
Three previous DOJ motions were rejected. This time, Holder prosecutors
not only requested denying the defense's dismissal request, but asked Judge
Brinkema to reverse her earlier decision letting Al-Arian's attorneys present
evidence in case of trial.
- In March 2009, she backed the defense's request to file
a motion to dismiss Al-Arian's charges, saying she'd rule later at further
hearings, and expressing concern over government "bait and switch"
- "where Dr. Al-Arian and his counsel were assured
that, if he agreed to plead guilty (to one minor charge), he would not
be subject to any further involvement with the Justice Department beyond
his deportation following the completion of his sentence." Bush prosecutors
reneged on the agreement, Obama ones as contemptuous.
- Like earlier departments under Ashcroft, Gonzales, and
Mukasey, Holder shows equal contempt for the law and judicial fairness,
presenting a challenge for the most competent defense lawyers. Al-Arian,
however, is well represented, his team led by Professor Jonathan Turley,
a recognized legal scholar who's written extensively on constitutional
and tort law as well as legal theory and other topics. With him are attorneys
William E. Olsen and Philip J. Meitl.
- On October 29, at 8:30AM, Al-Arian's hearing will be
held at the
- Albert V. Bryan US Courthouse
- 401 Courthouse Square
- Alexandria, VA 22314
- The freesamialarian site calls it his "most important"
one so far, more than others up to now. His freedom and future depend on
- Some Final Comments
- In July 2003, Amnesty International (AI) wrote US prosecutors,
"calling for a review of the pre-trial detention conditions of Dr.
Sami Al-Arian, aspects of which it said appeared to be 'gratuitously punitive,'
" and a breach of international standards.
- In December 2005, AI sought fair procedures to resolve
his case after jurors acquitted him of terrorist and other serious charges.
AI noted his harsh solitary confinement, calling it "unnecessarily
- In August 2008, Howard Zinn said:
- "I thought that (Al-Arian's case) was an outrageous
violation of human rights, both from a constitutional point of view and
as a simple test of justice."
- His former appeals attorney, Professor Peter Erlinder
and former National Lawyers Guild president said:
- "The prosecution of Dr. Sami Al-Arian was a blatant
attempt to silence political speech and dissent in the aftermath of the
9/11 tragedy. The nature of the political persecution of this case has
been demonstrated throughout all its aspects, not only during the trial
and the never-ending right-wing media onslaught, but also after the stunning
defeat of the government in 2005, and its ill-advised abuse of the grand
jury system thereafter."
- Throughout his ordeal, many other individuals and organizations
expressed support, demanding justice and an end to prosecutorial ruthlessness,
false imprisonment, and contempt for the rule of law.
- In 2007, Norwegian filmmakers produced a documentary
titled, USA v. Al-Arian. An updated 2009 version is now available. Access
the following link to order:
- Al-Arian was targeted for his ethnicity, prominence,
activism, and for being Muslim at the wrong time in America. Washington's
police state harshness makes everyone just as vulnerable.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour
on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and
Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.