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U.S. tries to force Political Prisoner to testify before Grand Jury

 link to www.sptimes.com

Al-Arian ordered to testify in case

His ex-lawyer believes this is a ploy to further punish Al-Arian, who will likely not testify and will be held in contempt.
Dr. Sami Al-Arian was arrested on February 20, 2003, after nearly eight years of government harassment because of his work on behalf of Palestine, and charged with supporting "terrorism." He has been locked up ever since, pending deporatation, because of his support for the Palestinian liberation struggle. Dr. Al-Arian is the son of Palestinian refugees and has lived in the U.S. since 1975 with his wife and five American-born children. In 1981 he helped establish the Islamic Society of North America and served as the imam of the Islamic Community of Tampa. He has long been active fighting the unconstitutional use of secret evidence and other civil rights violations, as well as ongoing media attacks against Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians. He is the recipient of Civil Rights Awards from the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the American Muslim Council (AMC), and American Muslim Alliance (AMA). After a six month trial he was acquitted on eight of the 17 charges against him in December 2005. On April 14, 2006 Dr. Al-Arian pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to provide services to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and agreed to be deported. In return, federal prosecutors dropped the remaining eight charges against him and agreed not to charge him with any other crimes they were investigating at the time of the agreement.

Now the U.S. government is trying to take advantage of the fact that Dr. Al-Arian is still in custody to force him to testify before a Grand Jury against other Palestinian activists. The U.S. has historically used the Federal Grand Jury as an instrument of political oppression, often directing it against liberation movements, for example, federal grand juries have been used to attack the Puerto Rican Independence movement since the 1930s. Dr. Al-Arian's lawyer says he will refuse to testify.


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 link to www.sptimes.com

Al-Arian ordered to testify in case

His ex-lawyer believes this is a ploy to further punish Al-Arian, who will likely not testify and will be held in contempt.

by MEG LAUGHLIN
September 25, 2006

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Sami Al-Arian, who is seven months away from leaving prison, is about to be subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in another terrorism-related case in Virginia, according to his former attorney, Bill Moffitt.

Al-Arian, who was serving his sentence at a prison 60 miles north of Tampa, has been moved to a county jail in Virginia, where he will be summoned to testify before a grand jury about an Islamic think tank.

"It is a clear violation of the plea agreement, which was supposed to end Sami's business with the United States, and prosecutors know that," said Moffitt.

Steve Cole, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa, said, "We can't comment on any activity involving Sami Al-Arian."

Linda Moreno, Moffitt's co-counsel, said, "The plea agreement doesn't mention cooperation and that is intentional. That Dr. Al-Arian would not cooperate was negotiated."

What this means, said Moffitt, is that Al-Arian will probably take the Fifth Amendment and refuse to testify, which will result in contempt charges. This could extend his sentence by 18 months.

In May, Al-Arian was sentenced to 57 months in prison as part of a plea agreement in which he admitted helping associates of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad with non-violent activities. His release date was set for April 13, 2007, because he had already spent several years in prison before and during the trial.

The agreement came five months after Al-Arian received not guilty verdicts in a jury trial, where he was charged with fundraising for the violent activities of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Israel and the Occupied Territories. At the end of the six-month trial, a jury acquitted him on eight counts and hung on nine.

Al-Arian's plea agreement stated that the Department of Justice could not "charge defendant with committing any other federal offenses known ... at the time of the execution of this agreement."

At the plea agreement hearing in April, federal prosecutor Cherie Krigsman specifically told the court that Al-Arian would not be charged in the Eastern District of Virginia, "with committing any other federal crimes known ... at the time of this agreement."

Krigsman mentioned the Eastern District of Virginia because of Al-Arian connections to the International Institute of Islamic Thought, a think tank in eastern Virginia. The IIIT is still being investigated by the federal government.

"It's an outrageous violation of the agreement," said Moffitt. "Sami is about finished and they're piling on."

Contact Meg Laughlin at  mlaughlin@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8068.
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