[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.
Please write to the following individuals to ask
for an immediate end to Dr. Al-Arian's
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
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) 225-0072 Fax
4- Senator Patrick Leahy
433 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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