Dr. Sami Al-Arian lives...for now
More than thirty years ago, Sami Al-Arian, the son of Palestinian refugees, came to the United States as an immigrant. He married, had a family, and eventually became a tenured professor of computer science at the University of South Florida. Five years ago, after years of illegal surveillance of both he and his family, he was arrested for supporting terrorism.
The trial was a travesty. The government found no evidence (in 21,000 hours of illegal wiretapping!) such as would convict Al-Arian, but they tried to manipulate the emotions of the jury by showing videos of bombings in Israel, implying that Al-Arian was some sort of mastermind of such activities. The jury refused to convict. They ruled him innocent on eight charges, remaining deadlocked (10-2) on nine more.
As his continued incarceration was wearing on both he and his family, Al-Arian ultimately agreed to plead "guilty" to one charge consisting of such heinous crimes as lying to a reporter about whether or not he knew someone (this is against the law?). In any case, the agreement was that the government would release Al-Arian to join his family and leave the United States. In a last minute shocking move, however, the judge sentenced Al-Arian to the maximum possible for the trumped up charges and Al-Arian was shipped to a back-water county jail in Virginia where he was brought up before a Grand Jury and subsequently cited for contempt for not testifying. This meant MORE time to serve, of course, so he is now in his fifth year of continual incarceration without having been convicted of a single crime!
Some of those who have followed the case like to point to an outburst he was once goaded into making during a television show, but the fact that he is emotional about what has been perpetrated against the Palestinian people by the Israeli government with the acquiesence and even assistance of the U.S. government is hardly grounds for interminable illegal incarceration. Al-Arian is clearly a scapegoat representing for George Bush et al the entire sum of Middle Eastern peoples, all of whom, according to Bush, must be terrorists who will act at a moment's notice against our totally innocent nation.
A shocking and award-winning movie, "U.S.A. vs Al-Arian," has been appearing around the world and increasingly in the U.S. If you have not seen it and can, I highly recommend it, though it is heart-breaking, unsettling, and in some ways, downright terrifying. If this can be done to one person, it can be done to anyone.
Sami Al-Arian was due to be released finally on April 7th of this year, but, in yet another surprise(?) and illegal move, it has now been announced that he will be brought up before another Grand Jury, with the likely outcome that he will be cited for contempt once more, resulting in more time in jail. Al-Arian's response has been to go on a no-food, no-water fast in spite of the fact that he is diabetic. He has already lost eighteen pounds in six days.
Please, if you feel so inclined, go to this site and learn what you can do to help bring pressure to bear on those who continue to torment this man. Please help Sami Al-Arian join his family while he still can.