[Pnews] Sami al-Arian, Palestinian prisoner in US jails, deported to Turkey
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 6 10:50:41 EST 2015
Sami al-Arian, Palestinian prisoner in US jails, deported to Turkey
Feb 6, 2015
Sami al-Arian <http://www.freesamialarian.com/>, Palestinian professor,
activist and political prisoner in US jails who was never convicted on
so-called “terrorism” charges and spent years in house arrest because he
refused to testify and inform on Palestinians who were being
investigated by a federal grand jury, was finally deported from the US
to Turkey on 4 February. Al-Arian’s case, which stretched on for over 13
years, exemplified the US policy
of targeting Palestinian activists for repression, imprisonment and
Al-Arian told The Intercept
came to the United States for freedom, but four decades later, I am
leaving to gain my freedom.”
Al-Arian released a statement <http://www.freesamialarian.com/> upon his
exit from the country:
To my dear friends and supporters,
After 40 years, my time in the U.S. has come to an end. Like many
immigrants of my generation, I came to the U.S. in 1975 to seek a higher
education and greater opportunities. But I also wanted to live in a free
society where freedom of speech, association and religion are not only
tolerated but guaranteed and protected under the law. That’s why I
decided to stay and raise my family here, after earning my doctorate in
1986. Simply put, to me, freedom of speech and thought represented the
cornerstone of a dignified life.
Today, freedom of expression has become a defining feature in the
struggle to realize our humanity and liberty. The forces of intolerance,
hegemony, and exclusionary politics tend to favor the stifling of free
speech and the suppression of dissent. But nothing is more dangerous
than when such suppression is perpetrated and sanctioned by government.
As one early American once observed, “When the people fear their
government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people,
there is liberty.” Because government has enormous power and authority
over its people, such control must be checked, and people, especially
those advocating unpopular opinions, must have absolute protections from
governmental overreach and abuse of power. A case in point of course is
the issue of Palestinian self-determination. In the United States, as
well as in many other western countries, those who support the
Palestinian struggle for justice, and criticize Israel’s occupation and
brutal policies, have often experienced an assault on their freedom of
speech in academia, media, politics and society at large. After the
tragic events of September 11th, such actions by the government
intensified, in the name of security. Far too many people have been
targeted and punished because of their unpopular opinions or beliefs.
During their opening statement in my trial in June 2005, my lawyers
showed the jury two poster-sized photographs of items that government
agents took during searches of my home many years earlier. In one photo,
there were several stacks of books taken from my home library. The other
photo showed a small gun I owned at the time. The attorney looked the
jury in the eyes and said: “This is what this case is about. When the
government raided my client’s house, this is what they seized,” he said,
pointing to the books, “and this is what they left,” he added, pointing
to the gun in the other picture. “This case is not about terrorism but
about my client’s right to freedom of speech,” he continued. Indeed,
much of the evidence the government presented to the jury during the
six-month trial were speeches I delivered, lectures I presented,
articles I wrote, magazines I edited, books I owned, conferences I
convened, rallies I attended, interviews I gave, news I heard, and
websites I never even accessed. But the most disturbing part of the
trial was not that the government offered my speeches, opinions, books,
writings, and dreams into evidence, but that an intimidated judicial
system allowed them to be admitted into evidence. That’s why we
applauded the jury’s verdict. Our jurors represented the best society
had to offer. Despite all of the fear-mongering and scare tactics used
by the authorities, the jury acted as free people, people of conscience,
able to see through Big Brother’s tactics. One hard lesson that must be
learned from the trial is that political cases should have no place in a
free and democratic society.
But despite the long and arduous ordeal and hardships suffered by my
family, I leave with no bitterness or resentment in my heart whatsoever.
In fact, I’m very grateful for the opportunities and experiences
afforded to me and my family in this country, and for the friendships
we’ve cultivated over the decades. These are lifelong connections that
could never be affected by distance.
I would like to thank God for all the blessings in my life. My faith
sustained me during my many months in solitary confinement and gave me
comfort that justice would ultimately prevail.
Our deep thanks go to the friends and supporters across the U.S., from
university professors to grassroots activists, individuals and
organizations, who have stood alongside us in the struggle for justice.
My trial attorneys, Linda Moreno and the late Bill Moffitt, were the
best advocates anyone could ask for, both inside and outside of the
courtroom. Their spirit, intelligence, passion and principle were
inspirational to so many.
I am also grateful to Jonathan Turley and his legal team, whose tireless
efforts saw the case to its conclusion. Jonathan’s commitment to justice
and brilliant legal representation resulted in the government finally
dropping the case.
Our gratitude also goes to my immigration lawyers, Ira Kurzban and John
Pratt, for the tremendous work they did in smoothing the way for this
next phase of our lives.
Thanks also to my children for their patience, perseverance and support
during the challenges of the last decade. I am so proud of them.
Finally, my wife Nahla has been a pillar of love, strength and
resilience. She kept our family together during the most difficult
times. There are no words to convey the extent of my gratitude.
We look forward to the journey ahead and take with us the countless
happy memories we formed during our life in the United States.
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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