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USA vs Al-Arian
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Jailed Professor on Hunger Strike (3/27)

IPSnews.net
March 27, 2008
By Ali Gharib

Link: Click here

WASHINGTON, Mar 27 (IPS) - Webster's New Dictionary
defines "justice" with words that represent lofty
ideals; "integrity", "impartiality", and "the awarding of what is
due". But in the case of Palestinian activist and former University
of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian, critics say, the U.S.
Department of Justice under President George W. Bush has failed
miserably to meet any of those standards.

Early this month, just after the five-year anniversary of his
detention, Al-Arian began a hunger strike to protest the repeated
attempts of a U.S. attorney in Virginia to roll back his plea
agreement and call him before a grand jury in a case unrelated to
his own.

Since then, Al-Arian has not eaten or taken medicine for his medical
conditions. He has lost 30 pounds -- growing gaunt in appearance and
worrying his family and attorneys, though they did manage to
convince him to take water last week after he appeared to be in the
advanced stages of dehydration.

On Wednesday, Al-Arian was transferred to a hospital within the
Bureau of Prisons system, where his lead attorney said there was
a "draconian protocol for hunger strikes".

Though his lawyers contend that he is under no obligation to
testify, Al-Arian's refusal to talk might cause prosecutors to
charge him with criminal contempt of court and cost him the ability
to leave prison on Apr. 11 having completed his 57- month sentence --
realising what critics of the case have called a de facto policy of
indefinite detention.

After Al-Arian had spent two and a half years in custody, the
administration was embarrassed when it couldn't secure a single
conviction in one of its highest-profile terrorism cases against the
man who then attorney general John Ashcroft accused of being the
head of a Palestinian terrorist organisation.

Facing retrial on the deadlocked charges, Al-Arian decided to spare
his family the agony of another long trial ordeal by pleading to a
lesser charge of aiding associates of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and
directly aiding the group before its designation as a terrorist
organisation by the U.S. in 1997.

But Al-Arian set conditions for his agreement. Because of the
strains that his imprisonment and trial had put on his own family,
he refused to work with the government on other cases.

"He took the position that he did not want to cooperate with any
effort to destroy other individuals the way that his own family was
destroyed by the government," Al-Arian's lead counsel, George
Washington University law professor Jonathon Turley, told IPS.

Al-Arian, who has lived in the U.S. for over 30 years but is not a
citizen, also demanded that the government expedite his deportation
after his release to avert the potential for long immigration
proceedings.

The U.S. attorney's office for the Middle District of Florida where
the case was prosecuted obliged, but attached conditions of their
own -- Al-Arian would agree to serve a longer sentence for his
crimes.

"There was negotiations back and forth that the plea agreement would
end all business with the federal government and that he would be
deported," said Linda Moreno, Al-Arian's trial lawyer who
participated in the negotiations.

Then came the legal wrangling that has clouded what Al-Arian thought
would be a clear path to the end of his persecution.

Plea agreements in Florida and many other states contain boilerplate
language that compels defendants to aid the government in other
investigations that can be negotiated away. Rarely is it replaced
with explicit language of a non-cooperation clause.

Jack Fernandez, another member of Al-Arian's team, told IPS that has
never seen a plea agreement in Middle District of Florida where he
practices which states that the defendant cannot be forced to
cooperate with the government.

The understanding between the U.S. attorney's office in Florida and
Al-Arian's team was that by removing the language, non-cooperation
was implied.

"Many courts have recognised that there are cases in a plea
agreement -- like any contract -- where the intent of the parties is
not entirely reflected in the language. Those courts have said that
you can present evidence showing the true intent or understanding of
the parties," Turley said.

After the plea was agreed upon, Al-Arian's lawyers asked for an
evidentiary hearing to clarify its intent. A Florida judge rebuffed
the request.

Al-Arian challenged the refusal for a hearing in the 11th circuit
court of appeals on the grounds that it "violates the standard not
just of Florida but of other states", as Turley put it -- noting
that Al-Arian was only asking for the due process right of
presenting evidence on his own behalf. But the ruling was upheld,
forcing the appeal to the full 11th circuit. If that appeal fails,
the case could go to the Supreme Court.

"It is very rare to see a case where the attorneys are prepared to
make statements under oath and supply evidence that expressed
promises were made, but the court will not allow it to be put in the
record through an evidentiary hearing," said Turley.

"What the former lawyers are arguing here is that not only was Dr.
Al-Arian misled, but they were misled. That would be a very
important issue for the court to address," he said.

The Middle District of Florida U.S. attorney's office refused to
comment for this story.

Not long after the agreement, Gordon Kromberg, the assistant U.S.
attorney in Virginia, called Al-Arian to testify before the grand
jury to help build a case against two Islamic charities in Northern
Virginia he suspected of ties to terrorism.

The Justice Department now cites the absence of expressed non-
cooperation language to justify the subpoena.

"The plea agreement is clear, unambiguous and does not grant Al-
Arian immunity from future grand jury subpoena," said Justice
Department spokesman Dean Boyd as reported by the Washington
Post. "Therefore, we hold that the government did not break the plea
agreement by issuing a subpoena commanding Al-Arian to testify
before a grand jury."

But both Fernandez and Turley pointed out that the government, to
their knowledge, has never denied the intent of the plea agreement.

"What is interesting is that the Justice Department has not argued
that there was no understanding or discussion of non-cooperation.
They have based their entire argument on the technical point that
there is no expressed language in the agreement," said Turley.

That reversal from the intent of the agreement made by the Florida
prosecutors is highly unusual, leading some critics of Al-Arian's
treatment at hands of the government to cry of foul play in an
attempt to artificially prolong his detention.

Asked by IPS if she had ever seen this absence of coordination
between the two U.S. attorneys' offices that would lead to one
essentially ignoring the agreement made by another, Moreno said, "I
personally know of no other case like this, in this regard."

Documents & Releases

Statement of Chairs of American Muslim Task-Force on Civil Rights and Elections  (AMT) and  Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Howard Zinn Statement on Professor Al-Arian

SITE SEARCH

SPOTLIGHT

March 2000

December 2005alarian.jpg

January 2009

To be patriotic is to be able to question government policy in times of crisis.
To be patriotic is to stand up for the Bill of Rights and the Constitution in times of uncertainty and insecurity.
To be patriotic is to  speak up against the powerful in defense of the weak and the voiceless.
To be patriotic is to be willing to pay the price to preserve our freedoms, dignity, and rights.
To be patriotic is to
challenge the abuses of the PATRIOT Act.
From a speech by Dr. Al-Arian
9/1/2002

Biography---

UFF Summary: Al-Arian and USF

Poetry

Announcement of Book: The Al-Arian Reader

A new compilation of all relevant articles to be released soon by the National Liberty Fund

Selected Poems
by Sami Al-Arian

We Shall Rise

To Maya Angelou
Like the dream of the slave
You rise
And with the scream of the brave
I shall rise
In honoring the memory of your ancestors
You rise
With my stateless brothers and sisters
I shall rise
Like dust in the sunlight
You rise
And as ashes in a fiery night
I shall rise
You offend
Because of your existence
And I
For my resistance
You upset them
Recalling their past
And I
By holding steadfast
They may trod you in dirt
May cause me all the hurt
Inflict upon you excruciating pain
While they shut me up and detain
By they won't see you broken
Neither would my faith be forsaken
As you've never bowed your head
And never lowered your eyes
I'll continue to raise my fist
And hide my mother's cries
They may shoot you with their words
Cut me up with their swords
They may insult you with their eyes
Denigrate me with their lies
Trying to kill you with their hate
Bury me alive to seal my fate
But they'd certainly
Be shamed and fail
As the free chant and sing
On their march to prevail
So keep your head held high
As I follow you and try
And keep your beautiful smile
As I walk my first mile
They'll pressure and blame
Throw us in prison to control and tame
They'll exile and defame
Lynch us all or shoot and maim
Burn crosses with no shame
Target our children in a dirty game
By why is that a surprise?
Despite their evil and terror
Their falsehood and lies
You shall rise
And I shall rise
You're the black ocean
Leaping and wide
I'm the Mediterranean
With a stormy tide
Staying together
Side by side
It's no surprise
We shall rise
Surely shall rise
We together shall rise
No Longer Afraid
For us to feel "secure"
What price is being paid?
If living in freedom
Why are we afraid?
Fear is everywhere
All around
Perhaps irrational
But without any bound
You can see it on our faces
Sense it in our eyes
You can hear it in our whispers
Feel it in our cries
More>>No Longer Afraid
The Bird and The Vulture
The bird was chirping
In a house on a tree
But the vulture was angry
Because it was free
When the bird is singing
The vulture ain't safe
More>>The Bird and The Vulture
The Smile of Freedom
He looked like
A body-builder
Tall, tough, and full
All muscles and no fat
His mind was simple
Suited to follow orders
No questions asked
Acting mean and mechanical
Like any bureaucrat
More>>The Smile ...
In the Name of Freedom
In the name of freedom
We shall rule the world
To spread democracy
And set you free
In the name of freedom
We’ll descend on you
To make you civilized
Modern and orderly
More>>In the Name ...
The Accused: Franz Kafka Meets George Orwell in 21st Century America
Act I: The Mother of all Evidence
Act II- Weapons of Mass Deception
Act III: Silencing of the Lambs
Act IV: Attacks of the Wolves
Act V: Occupied Territory
Act VI: Police State
Act VII: Official Obituary
Act VIII: A Close Encounter of the Scariest Kind
Act IX: The Inquisition
Act X- Conspiracy Theory
Act XI- Secret Trials
Act XII- Silent Pain and Teary Eyes
Act XIII- True Patriot Acts
Do Not Sign
Rights are not for sale
History is not kind
On those who sell their people out,
Betray their cause,
Surrender their land
To tow the line
Do not sign
More>>Do Not Sign
Rachel Corrie: Daughter of Palestine
The most gentle
Amongst all honorable
Women
Had a spirit
As dazzling as
The garden of
Eden
More>>Daughter of Palestine
Ole Jerusalem
O Ole Jerusalem
I feel your pain
I hear your cries
The light thunder
In the darkness
And the heavy rain
I see the steady bleeding
Of your wound
With its mark and stain
More>>Ole Jerusalem
Patrick Henry
A revolutionary
At heart
A patriot
From the start
Loved by his country
To the core
Defended freedom
Even more
Hated arrogance
In shape and tone
Fought tyranny
With every bone
He was the conscience
Of his people
Striking fear in the enemy
And made it feeble
More>> Patrick Henry
Injustice
An overwhelming feeling
Of bitterness
Emptiness
Hopelessness
Helplessness
Sadness
Madness
Of hatred and rage
Trapped in a cage
Disappointment and anger
Continuing to linger
Wounding of dignity
Violating your virginity
More>> Injustice
Political Riddles
He sees the world as black and white
His solution to every quandary is fight with might
The economy will not stimulate
Because he can’t articulate
While jobs are gone
He says, “bring ‘em on.”
Who is he?
He likes to be called the General
The head of an agency that’s federal
If you spit on the sidewalk
He’ll send the Incredible Hulk
He hates to cite truth or fact
Because he’s busy promoting his unpatriotic act
He frequents TV cameras with a smash
The first part of his last name sounds like trash
Who is he?
He is the ideal dutiful poodle they say
From an empire where the sun did not set one day
He adores his cowboy friend and considers him a fan
And insists: I’m nobody’s yes-man
When the cowboy says no, I say no
Who is he?
More>>Political Riddles