[Ppnews] After Intense Courtroom Battle, Dr. Al-Arian's Trial Postponed

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Aug 11 11:29:11 EDT 2008

After Intense Courtroom Battle, Dr. Al-Arian's Trial Postponed

Prosecution emotionally accuses defense of carrying out personal 
attacks; Judge to attorneys: "Cool down!"

August 9, 2008 / Alexandria, VA -

On Friday, in a pre-trial hearing which witnessed one of the single 
most dramatic clashes between Dr. Sami Al-Arian's attorneys and the 
government, a federal judge unexpectedly postponed Dr. Al-Arian's 
trial on criminal contempt. The trial, originally scheduled for this 
upcoming Wednesday (August 13th), will now be delayed until the 
Supreme Court addresses the appeal submitted by Dr. Al-Arian's 
attorneys on the lawfulness of the federal subpoena which led to the 
contempt charges, a process which could take several months.
        Several other important issues were vigorously debated by 
both sides. One of the defense's primary objections to the legality 
of the contempt charges was that the immunity order given to Dr. 
Al-Arian was not written in the standard language set forth by 
Congress. Not only that, government prosecutor Gordon Kromberg had 
concealed that his attempt to make such modifications had been 
stricken down by a federal judge for the very trial which Dr. 
Al-Arian has been summoned to testify in. Judge Brinkema expressed 
concern at this unorthodox practice, ordering all related documents 
to be turned over to the court before issuing a ruling. The judge 
indicated that a hearing could be held to determine whether the 
prosecutor had acted inappropriately and whether the immunity order 
given to Dr. Al-Arian was lawful. Assistant US Attorney Kromberg for 
his part vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
        During the course of the 90-minute hearing, Kromberg also 
complained to the court about public comments recently made by former 
U.S. Senator Mike Gravel. Kromberg claimed that Gravel had called for 
him to be stalked, further maintaining that the web log of lead 
defense attorney Jonathan Turley had incited such sentiments. In one 
moment of hyperbole, Kromberg went so far as to refer to the blog 
posts as "anti-Semitic."
       Judge Brinkema cautioned both parties from allowing the case 
to "heat up", warning that she would not hesitate to replace 
attorneys on either side if the situation did not improve. Turley 
pointed out that the defense had publicly repudiated Gravel's 
comments, and further noted that, while Dr. Al-Arian and his family 
are continuously attacked by extremist websites, the defense has 
never attributed responsibility for such attacks to the government. 
Nevertheless, Turley offered to remove all postings related to Dr. 
Al-Arian's case from his website in order to help refocus attention 
on the more essential issues at hand.
        Instead of calming down, however, the hour-and-a-half-long 
hearing ended on another heated note. After Judge Brinkema ordered 
that Dr. Al-Arian be released on bail under the custodianship of his 
eldest daughter, Kromberg abruptly objected, claiming that, as an 
Arab woman, Dr. Al-Arian's daughter would be too weak and submissive 
to oppose any potential attempt by Dr. Al-Arian to flee, saying that 
"in this particular [Arab-Islamic] culture, she would not be able to 
stop him from leaving..." Before the defense could express its 
objection however, the judge struck down Kromberg's objection, 
frankly noting that it was "insulting" not only to Dr. Al-Arian and 
his daughter, but to the Court as well. The audience in the courtroom 
was stunned by the prosecutor's overtly sexist and racist comments, 
though Kromberg has developed his notoriety for the bigotry displayed 
toward Arab and Muslim Americans.
        Nevertheless, despite the judge's order to have Dr. Al-Arian 
released on bail, it is still not clear whether this will actually 
happen. Judge Brinkema had originally ordered bail for Dr. Al-Arian 
on July 10th, but the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) used 
the pretext that it was in the process of deporting Dr. Al-Arian to 
keep him detained. With the trial months away, however, it is 
uncertain what exactly will happen next.

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