[Ppnews] Dr. Al-Arian called Before Third Grand Jury

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Mar 3 19:20:53 EST 2008


From: "tampabayjustice" <tampabayjustice at yahoo.com>
Date: Mon, 03 Mar 2008 20:07:59 -0000
Subject: Justice Department Calls Dr. Al-Arian Before Third Grand Jury


Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace
March 3, 2008

ARLINGTON -- During a hearing in Virginia this 
morning Dr. Sami Al-Arian was informed that he 
will be called to testify before a third grand 
jury. Please read the post below (source: Attorney Jonathan Turley's blog).

The Justice Department Calls Dr. Sami Al-Arian Before Third Grand Jury

Since the beginning of civil contempt proceedings 
against Dr. Sami Al-Arian, we have been heavily 
restricted in what we can discuss in public due 
to the on-going court sealing of proceedings. 
Today, however, the government presented a court 
order that granted him, again, immunity to 
testify and ordered him to appear before another 
grand jury. The order effectively strips him of 
his privilege against self-incrimination and lays 
the groundwork for a new civil or criminal contempt proceeding.

Dr. Al-Arian was held for a year on civil 
contempt for refusing to cooperate in a grand 
jury investigation. Under federal rules, the 
government is not allowed to use civil contempt 
confinement against a witness who clearly will 
not cooperate. Yet, despite his repeated refusals 
and an international campaign supporting his 
defiance of the Justice Department, prosecutors 
insisted that Dr. Al-Arian would break under 
pressure as a way to keep him confined.

On February 20, 2003, Dr. Al-Arian was arrested 
and imprisoned based on a February 19, 2003 
indictment filed in the United States District 
Court for the Middle District of Florida. Dr. 
Al-Arian was charged, along with various 
co-defendants, in a 53 count Superseding 
Indictment on September 21, 2004. On December 6, 
2005, after a six month trial in the United 
States District Court for the Middle District of 
Florida, Dr. Al-Arian was acquitted on eight 
counts and the jury deadlocked on the remaining 
nine counts. After the defeat in Florida, the 
government offered to allow Dr. Al-Arian to leave 
the country if he gave them one criminal count in 
a plea agreement. From the outset, Dr. Al-Arian 
made clear to the government that he would never 
enter a plea agreement that required his 
cooperation in destroying the lives of other 
people. Given the condition of deportation and 
the financial ruin caused to his family, Dr. 
Al-Arian refused to cooperate on principle and 
this was a key element in crafting the agreement.

As a result of these negotiations, Dr. Al-Arian 
executed a written agreement on February 28, 2006 
that included a guilty plea to Court 4 of the 
Superseding Indictment, which carried a 
guidelines range of 46 to 57 months 
incarceration. It did not require cooperation. 
While the government recommended that Dr. 
Al-Arian be sentenced to the low end of the 
Guidelines (i.e. 46 months), he was sentenced to 
a 57-month term of imprisonment on May 1, 2006.

Despite the non-cooperation agreement, 
prosecutors in Virginia set out to call Dr. Al- 
Arian to a grand jury in full knowledge that he 
would refuse and be held in contempt. On May 10, 
2006, ten days after being sentenced by the 
United States District Court for the Middle 
District of Florida, the United States Attorney's 
Office for the Eastern District of Virginia 
obtained an order immunizing Dr. Al-Arian and 
compelling his testimony before the grand jury. 
It then moved to hold him in civil contempt when he refused to testify.

Dr. Al-Arian continues to seek a judicial order 
upholding the non-cooperation agreement before 
the Eleventh Circuit, which heard oral argument 
on Dr. Al-Arian's appeal on September 11, 2007.

On January 22, 2007, Dr. Al-Arian began a hunger 
strike that lasted over two-months. He lost 55 
pounds and was experiencing kidney problems when 
he relented to demands from his family to stop 
the strike. In May 2007, Dr. Al-Arian was told by 
the medical staff that he was diagnosed with a 
hernia and that surgery is required to correct this condition.

Dr. Al-Arian has now outlasted two grand juries. 
After the court granting a motion to lift the 
last contempt order, he began serving the 
remainder of his time from the plea agreement. 
This time was suspended during his civil contempt 
period ­ a way of extending his punishment.

At today's hearing itself were Professor Turley 
and Dr. Al-Arian's local counsel, Will Olson and 
P.J. Meitl, from the law firm of Bryan Cave.

Professor Turley released the following statement:

On behalf of Mr. Olson and Mr. Meitl and the 
entire legal team, I wanted to express our great 
disappointment in the decision of the Justice 
Department to continue this effort to mete out 
punishment that it could not secure from a jury. 
Having lost the case in Florida, the Justice 
Department has openly sought to extend his 
confinement by daisy-chaining grand juries.. As 
in other cases, the government has given Dr. 
Al-Arian the choice of an obvious perjury trap or 
a contempt sanction. It is a choice that is 
obnoxious to our legal system and contrary to any 
standard of decency. The mistreatment of Dr. 
Al-Arian remains an international symbol of how 
the Bush Administration has discarded fundamental 
principles of fairness in a blind pursuit of 
retribution against this political activist. We 
stand committed to fighting this great injustice 
and hopefully reuniting Dr. Al- Arian with his family and friends.

Jonathan Turley
Lead Counsel for Dr. Al-Arian





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