[Ppnews] Judge Lifts Al-Arian Contempt

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Dec 14 10:22:37 EST 2007


Reply-To: tampabaycoalitionforjusticeandpeace-owner at yahoogroups.com


Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace
Dec. 13, 2007

ALEXANDRIA, VA ­

A federal judge finally lifted the civil contempt status from Dr.
Al-Arian at a hearing held in Alexandria on Thursday. Dr. Al-Arian
will now begin serving the remaining four months of his sentence.

Judge Gerald Lee granted a defense motion to lift the contempt, after
Dr. Al-Arian was imprisoned for eleven months that did not count
toward his sentence. Prior to that, he had spent two months for
another grand jury in which he refused to testify.

Dr. Al-Arian's family, attorneys, and supporters welcomed the decision
by Judge Lee to lift the contempt. They have called on prosecutors not
to repeat the tactic of using grand jury subpoenas to extend Dr.
Al-Arian's imprisonment indefinitely or charge him with criminal
contempt as the government has done in other cases, and recent press
has hinted it might do in Dr. Al-Arian's case.

Attorney Jonathan Turley, who represents Dr. Al-Arian in the contempt
case, wrote on his blog: "The use of civil contempt to prolong his
punishment has been a shocking abuse of the system by the Justice
Department."

"Unable to convict Dr. Al-Arian before a jury, prosecutors have sought
to mete out their own brand of justice through the grand jury system.
It is a tactic used in other cases where the government creates the
perfect Catch-22 for unconvicted citizens: choose between a perjury
trap and a contempt charge for refusing to enter the perjury trap."

Reverend Warren Clark commented on the news following a prayer vigil
for Dr. Al-Arian at the First United Church in Tampa. While welcoming
the decision, he cautioned against the Virginia prosecutor Gordon
Kromberg's continued harassment of Dr. Al-Arian. "The threat is that
this man could do it again and have it be like Guantanamo here in the
United States. It is appropriate that [the contempt lifting] has
happened, and it is important for the integrity of the justice system
of the United States that there be no further use of the grand jury
system to extend Dr. Al-Arian's jail time. The jury spoke clearly -
not guilty, not guilty -and it is overdue that their decision be
respected."

Dr. Al-Arian's eldest son, Abdullah, also welcomed the decision by
Judge Lee to lift the contempt from his father. "We are very relieved
by this news today, but it is not yet over. Our father was kept from
us for an additional year without any rhyme or reason. My youngest
siblings need him back and so we pray that all conscientious people
stand up to any future attempts by these vindictive prosecutors to
continue and keep him from coming home."

Professor Turley added, "We hope that this will be the end of this
chapter in the Al-Arian case and that the government will now fulfill
its agreement with Dr. Al-Arian. His case continues to draw
international criticism of the Bush Administration and its abuse of
provisions governing material witness, material support, and
recalcitrant witnesses. It is our sincere hope that the Justice
Department will now accept the decision of the Florida jury and allow
Dr. Al-Arian to complete his sentence and re-join his family."

Speaking through his family, Dr. Al-Arian wished to express his
appreciation to the thousands of supporters around the world who have
stood up for justice in his case. He is grateful for the countless
letters of support he received, as well as to the thousands of people
who have written to Judge Lee over the past year. Their efforts were
not in vain, as their voices were most assuredly heard on Thursday.

The Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace calls on all supporters
of justice to continue and work toward Dr. Al-Arian's freedom.
Although he could be free in 115 days, 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.

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

House Judiciary Chair:
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr
2426 Rayburn Building Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-5126
(202) 225-0072 Fax
john.conyers at mail.house.gov

Senate Judiciary Chair:
Senator Patrick Leahy
433 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-4242
senator_leahy at leahy.senate.gov



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