[Ppnews] Dr. Al-Arian Begins Hunger Strike

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Mar 4 10:33:06 EST 2008


Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace
March 3, 2008

Dr. Al-Arian Begins Hunger Strike

ALEXANDRIA, VA.-- On Monday, March 3, 2008, Dr. 
Sami Al-Arian began a hunger strike for justice 
to protest continued government harassment. 
Earlier in the day, Dr. Al-Arian was informed 
that he would be called to testify before a third 
grand jury in Virginia, only weeks before his 
scheduled release date. Under his plea agreement, 
Dr. Al-Arian should have been released last April 
at the latest. However, because he has not 
testified, his sentence was suspended as he 
served one year on civil contempt. Dr. Al-Arian's 
current release date is April 7, but it will 
likely be pushed back indefinitely when he is 
called before a grand jury sometime in the coming weeks.

Dr. Al-Arian's attorneys argue that forcing him 
to testify is a clear violation of the plea 
agreement he reached with the government in the 
spring of 2006. Further, Dr. Al-Arian has been 
advised that the grand jury subpoena is a ploy by 
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg to 
ensnare him in a perjury trap, as he has done to 
at least one another Muslim defendant.

The idea that Dr. Al-Arian could avoid a perjury 
charge by simply testifying truthfully is 
"naïve," his attorney Jonathan Turley told the 
Tampa Tribune. "If the government wants to charge 
your client with perjury, it is almost certain to 
be able to do so by asking enough questions over the course of the proceeding."

This is the third hunger strike undertaken by Dr. 
Al-Arian, who is diabetic, during his five year 
incarceration. After his arrest on February 20, 
2003, he went on a 140-day liquid only hunger 
strike to protest the government's political 
persecution. During that time, he was 
hospitalized and lost 45 pounds. On January 22, 
2007, Dr. Al-Arian was held in civil contempt for 
not testifying before a grand jury. He went on a 
60-day water-only hunger strike in which he lost 
55 pounds, was hospitalized and confined to a wheelchair.

"The mistreatment of Dr. Al-Arian is part of the 
overall oppression of the Palestinian people. 
This is cruel punishment," said Agha Saeed, chair 
of the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights 
and Elections (AMT). "The government is playing a 
cat and mouse game with him. They did not decide 
to do this until the last minute, just as he's 
about to be released. This amounts to psychological torture."

With only one month remaining until Dr. 
Al-Arian's scheduled release, the government is 
threatening to keep him imprisoned for many 
years, through its continuous abuse of the grand 
jury system. Furthermore, as Dr. Al-Arian embarks 
on yet another hunger strike, the government must 
either release him as promised or be responsible for his life.

TAKE ACTION

Please write to the following individuals to ask 
for an immediate end to Dr. Al-Arian's
suffering:

1- Honorable Judge Gerald Lee
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
401 Courthouse Square, Alexandria, VA 22314

2- Attorney General Michael Mukasey
Department of Justice
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20530-0001
Fax Number: (202) 307-6777
BY E-MAIL:
E-mails to the Department of Justice, including the Attorney General,
may be sent to AskDOJ at usdoj.gov.

3- The Honorable John Conyers, Jr
2426 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-5126
(202) 225-0072 Fax
John.Conyers@ mail.house.gov

4- Senator Patrick Leahy
433 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
(299029)224- 4242
senator_leahy@ leahy.senate.gov



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