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Sami al-Arian is a Victim of America 10 March 2008


Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace
March 8, 2008



Today is the sixth day of Dr. Sami Al-Arian’s hunger strike for
justice, in which he is abstaining from both food and water. He has
grown weaker and has already lost 18 pounds. Please read below the
media coverage of Dr. Al-Arian’s Hunger Strike, including articles in
Harpers, Truthdig, and the St. Petersburg Times.

I. March 8, 2007, TruthDig.org

Dr. Al-Arian’s Third Strike
By Chris Hedges


The Palestinian activist Dr. Sami Amin Al-Arian, imprisoned for four
years despite a jury’s failure to return a single guilty verdict
against him, has gone on a hunger strike in Northern Neck Regional
Jail in Warsaw, Va. Al-Arian, who has abstained from food and water
since March 3, began his hunger strike after being informed he would
be called before a third grand jury. He has lost 15 pounds and has
been moved to the jail’s medical unit.

“A great nation is ultimately defined and judged by its system of
justice,” Al-Arian said in a statement released through his
family. “When the system is manipulated by the powerful and tolerates
abuses against the minorities or the weak members of society, the
government not only loses its moral authority and betrays future
generations, but will also be condemned by history.”

The hunger strike is the third by the Palestinian activist, who was
to have been released in April and deported. During his first hunger
strike, which lasted 140 days, he took liquid nutrients and lost 45
pounds. During his hunger strike last year, which lasted 60 days, he
drank only water and lost 55 pounds. Al-Arian is a diabetic.

“We are very worried about his health, but we understand why he’s
doing this,” said his daughter, Laila Al-Arian. “The U.S. government,
through its vindictive and politically motivated behavior, has given
our family no other option.”

The recent documentary “USA vs Al-Arian” detailed the absurdity of
the show trial held in Florida and the hollowness of the government’s
case against Al-Arian. When the film was awarded Best Nordic
Documentary at the Nordic Panorama in Finland the jury wrote: “The
film shows precisely how a common man becomes a victim of the
situation in the contemporary world, where the Big Brother is
watching you even when you´re ordering pizza.”

The decision to call Al-Arian before the grand jury was made although
Al-Arian had signed a “no-cooperation” agreement. The agreement
stipulated that he would not be required to cooperate with the
government in other cases. The government’s attempt to force him to
testify, despite the agreement, came a month before his scheduled
release. It is seen by his lawyers and his family as an effort by the
government to keep the activist in jail indefinitely.

Al-Arian endured a six-month show trial in Florida that saw the
government’s case collapse. The Justice Department spent an estimated
$50 million and several years investigating and prosecuting Al-Arian.

The government called 80 witnesses and subjected the jury to hundreds
of hours of often absurd phone transcriptions and recordings made
over a 10-year period, which the jury dismissed as “gossip.” Out of
the 94 charges made against the four defendants, there were no
convictions. Of the 17 charges against Al-Arian—including “conspiracy
to murder and maim persons abroad’’—the jury acquitted him of eight
and was hung on the rest. The jurors disagreed on the remaining
charges, with 10 of the 12 jurors favoring his full acquittal. Two
others in the case, Ghassan Ballut and Sameeh Hammoudeh, were
acquitted of all charges, dealing another body blow to the
government’s case.

Following the acquittal, a disaster for the government, especially
because then-Attorney General John Ashcroft had announced the
indictment, prosecutors threatened to retry Al-Arian. The Palestinian
professor, under duress, accepted a plea bargain agreement that would
spare him a second trial, saying in his agreement that he had helped
people associated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad with immigration
matters. It was a tepid charge given the high profile of the case.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and the
counter-terrorism section of the Justice Department agreed to
recommend to the judge the minimum sentence of 46 months. But U.S.
District Judge James S. Moody Jr. sentenced Dr. Al-Arian to the
maximum 57 months. In referring to Al-Arian’s contention that he had
only raised money for Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s charity for widows
and orphans, the judge said acidly to the professor that “your only
connection to orphans and widows is that you create them.”

II. March 7, 2007, Harpers.org

The Trials of Sami al-Arian
By Ken Silverstein


When Sami Al-Arian was arrested in 2003, then-Attorney General John
Ashcroft declared a major victory in the “war against terrorism.” Two
years later, after the Justice Department had spent an estimated $50
million prosecuting al-Arian, a Florida jury rejected charges that Al-
Arian and three co-defendants had financed and promoted Middle East

Al-Arian later pled guilty to a single lesser charge, saying he did
so to bring the case to a close. That was supposed to lead to his
deportation, but Al-Arian is still in jail. (He began a hunger strike
a few days ago.) Jonathan Turley, Al-Arian’s lawyer, says that the
Justice Department is seeking “to mete out punishment that it could
not secure from a jury.”

III. March 6, 2007, St. Petersburg Times

Al-Arian on hunger strike again
By Meg Laughlin


Sami Al-Arian is on the fifth day of a hunger strike in a Virginia
prison, protesting a third subpoena to testify before a grand jury.
He has refused food and water and has been transferred to a medical

His daughter Laila, who visited him Wednesday, described him
as “dehydrated, weak and disoriented.’’

Al-Arian’s wife Nahla, who lives in Egypt with their two youngest
children, telephoned him today and said she could barely hear him.

“I am so very worried about Sami,’’ she said. “It’s shocking that the
Department of Justice would reach this low.’’

In December 2005, a Tampa jury acquitted Al-Arian on eight terrorism-
related charges and deadlocked on nine. In May, 2006, Al-Arian
accepted a plea deal, admitting to helping associates of a terrorist
group with immigration and legal matters. Federal prosecutors
recommended Al-Arian be released from prison in a few months and
deported. But Tampa federal judge James S. Moody extended his
sentence until April, 2007.

A few months before Al-Arian’s scheduled release, Gordon Kromberg, an
assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia,
subpoenaed Al-Arian to testify before a grand jury or face civil
contempt charges. Al-Arian argued the order contradicted his plea
agreement which exempted him from signing a cooperation clause.

But Moody ruled that the exemption “was not memorialized in
writing’’ and was not binding.’

Kromberg has subpoenaed Al-Arian three times to testify before a
Virginia grand jury, which has been convened to look at the
activities of an Islamic think tank in Virginia. Kromberg would not
Twice, Al-Arian was charged with civil contempt for refusing to
testify, which extended his time in prison a year beyond his sentence.

In late January, 2007, Al-Arian went on a water-only hunger strike to
protest being held in contempt for refusing to testify. After losing
60 pounds in 60 days, his family convinced him to eat again.

In December, 2007, a federal judge in Virginia lifted Al-Arian’s
contempt charge and he was scheduled to be released in early April,
2008. But last week, Kromberg issued a third subpoena which, if Al-
Arian refuses to testify, could keep him in prison for another 18
months. This time, he is neither eating food nor drinking any liquids.

“My dad told us he has reached his limit,’’ said Laila Al-
Arian. “When he was acquitted over two years ago, we thought his
nightmare was over, but it never ends.’


How You Can Help Sami Al-Arian

Friends of Human Rights joins the Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and
Peace calling on all supporters of justice to continue and work
toward Dr. Al-Arian’s freedom. The Department of Justice must
continue to hear from conscientious Americans not to continue its
abuse of the justice system and punishment of Dr. Al-Arian and his
family through a third grand jury or a criminal contempt charge.
Furthermore, Congress must act to investigate these abuses and
ensure that justice is served in this and other cases.

Please write:

Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
(202) 307-6777 Fax

Glenn A. Fine, Inspector General
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20530-0001

House Judiciary Chair:
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr
2426 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-5126
(202) 225-0072 Fax

Senate Judiciary Chair:
Senator Patrick Leahy
433 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-4242

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



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