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Home arrow Blog arrow September 2008 arrow September 3, 2008

September 3, 2008
WAWA Blog September 3, 2008: Some Good News UPDATE Sept. 10, 2008


UPDATE:

http://www.FreeSamiNow.com

Statement from Dr. Al-Arian to Supporters Expresses gratitude for support; "Freedom restores dignity and humanity"

Dr. Al-Arian After Being Released
 
Northern Virginia - September 9, 2008 - Dr. Sami Al-Arian has given his first public statement since being released on bond, thanking his supporters for everything they have done, and calling on them to keep bearing witness to justice all over the world.
 
[Statement from Dr. Al-Arian:]
 
"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." These words, uttered by Thomas Jefferson more than two centuries ago, ring true today. I am very grateful to those who have been steadfast and vigilant in their defense of freedom, justice, and truth throughout my struggle during the past six years. Indeed, freedom restores the most precious qualities of life, dignity, and humanity.

       My thanks go to those in all corners of the globe who have campaigned for my case and for other prisoners of conscience. It takes courage and principle to stand up for justice at a time when fear often trumps rationality and fairness.

I am also grateful that my release came during a month of spirituality and reflection, one that I am blessed to spend with my family, while still remembering those who are less fortunate and deprived of the most important things in life: freedom, family, and peace.

       The work of my attorneys, Professor Jonathan Turley, Will Olson, and P.J. Meitl, has been outstanding. I am deeply grateful for their efforts in reuniting me with my family after so many years.

       Finally, to my friends, supporters, and people of conscience, although I have been released, my situation is not yet over. My family and I appreciate that you keep us in your thoughts and prayers. May God bestow His blessings, mercy, and grace on all those who struggle for justice and freedom, and on those who stand up for and speak out on their behalf.
 
[END]

Write to Dr. Al-Arian!
 

Personal letters are always an important source of inspiration for Dr. Al-Arian to keep persevering. To send a letter, simply email < > and your message will be passed along to him. Remember, even a short message of encouragement means a lot.
 
Again, to all of you who have shown your support, you have our heartfelt gratitude.





PRESS RELEASE from
Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace
Dr. Al-Arian Released on Bail! After 5 Grueling Years, a Moment of Repose

 
Fairfax, VA - September 2, 2008 - After five-and-a-half years of harsh and gratutious detention, former Florida professor and civil rights activist Dr. Sami Al-Arian was released on bond, reuniting with his family for the first time since his ordeal began in 2003.

Earlier today (Tuesday), the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) filed an order for the release of Dr. Al-Arian from their custody. Judge Brinkema originally granted Dr. Al-Arian bail on July 10 and reaffirmed that decision last month, but the ICE continued to detain him until today on the pretext that they were completing deportation procedures. 

Last week, Dr. Al-Arian's attorneys filed a petition for habeas corpus with the court, challenging the continued unlawful detention by ICE. Judge Brinkema gave the government until today to respond. Their response came in the form of an order for Dr. Al-Arian's release on bail.

Dr. Al-Arian's family was overjoyed upon hearing the news. Four of his five children along with his attorney met him at an ICE facility in Fairfax, Virginia earlier this afternoon. "We couldn't believe our eyes," Leena, Dr. Al-Arian's second oldest daughter, said. "We were so relieved. It's been 2,020 days since he's last been with us."

His eldest daughter Laila added that "We are overjoyed that our father is finally back with us after what felt like an eternity. I hope that this is just the beginning, that he'll be finally released for good, and that this horrific nightmare will be over. We'd like to thank all the people who've supported my father throughout the past several years. Their consistent dedication and hard work in the cause of justice has been invaluable." Dr. Al-Arian - who is unable to make any direct statements to the press because of his legal situation - echoed these sentiments, expressing his heartfelt appreciation for the countless thousands who have shown their support for his case.

Sami Al-Arian with Lawyer Jonathan Turley "We owe so much to our lawyers, Prof. Jonathan Turley, Will Olson, and P.J. Meitl," Abdullah Al-Arian told the TBCJP. "Their incredible work for justice has allowed our family to finally be reunited after so long. On behalf of my father and my family, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

For his part, Dr. Al-Arian's lead attorney Jonathan Turley told the AP "We are obviously relieved and delighted," noting that the release would allow Sami to see his son off to college and to spend the Muslim holy month of Ramadan with his family.

Dr. Al-Arian will remain under house arrest until he is brought to trial for the current contempt charges against him or until several motions for dismissal are decided. On August 8th, Judge Brinkema postponed the trial pending Dr. Al-Arian's appeal before the Supreme Court concerning the prosecution's violation of the 2006 plea agreement.

This is a great day for freedom and justice in America. We would like to express our gratitude to all of you who protested Dr. Al-Arian's imprisonment, wrote letters, made telephone calls, supported the defense fund, and offered their prayers and support. Your efforts HAVE made a difference. Stay tuned for more updates on how to help our campaign grow!



BACKGROUND: On March 15, 2008 I wrote:

American Palestinian Professor Dr. Sami Amin Al-Arian, has spent the last five years behind bars although NO jury ever returned a single guilty verdict against him. On March 3, 2008 he began his third hunger strike in Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Va. after learning he would face a third grand jury, instead of being released and deported this April.

After loosing fifteen pounds, the diabetic Dr. was moved to Butner Medical Center. I phoned the center [919- 575-3900] on March 14, 2008, seeking a condition update, but only got as far as leaving a voice mail.

I then phoned Melva Underbakke, who was driving to Phoenix to show the documentary USA vs AL-ARIAN.

Melva informed me, "I have known Sami for fifteen years, we both taught at the University of South Florida. When he was indicted he lost his tenure. We lived a mile from each other and were both on the educational committee of HOPE, a volunteer organization in the community that works to strengthen the community. Sami and I were both on the committee that helped the public schools develop an alternative to out of school suspension by keeping the suspended kids in the school system.

"After 9/11, Sami was instrumental in outreaching to the entire community by inviting the churches and all others to the mosque to express our shared grief and sorrow.

"Sami has won many awards for teaching. He worked to get people out to vote nd he lobbied in Washington.

"It’s a big loss to our community-a big loss to our country to loose such a person as Sami.

"Even during his pretrial incarceration the conditions were very harsh. He was always behind a glass; no physical contact was allowed, even for his family. I think maybe once a year they were allowed to be in the same room with him. The last time I saw him was just after his second hunger strike. He was still joking and in good spirits. He was strong and it was a happy visit.

"Sami was always a big believer in the American system. He felt justice would be done. But, I think because this case goes all the way to Washington, and they have been loosing these terror cases, they want to save face and don't want to give up persecuting Sami."


Dr. Al-Arian has stated:

"To be patriotic is to be able to question government policy in times of crisis. To be patriotic is to stand up for the bill of rights and the Constitution in times of uncertainty and insecurity. To be patriotic is to speak up against the powerful in defense of the weak and the voiceless. To be patriotic is to challenge the abuses of the PATRIOT Act."

“A great nation is ultimately defined and judged by its system of justice. When the system is manipulated by the powerful and tolerates abuses against the minorities or the weak members of society, the government not only loses its moral authority and betrays future generations, but will also be condemned by history.”


The diabetic Dr.'s first hunger strike, lasted 140 days, he survived on nutritional liquids and lost 45 pounds. In 2007, he went on a two month hunger strike, drank only water and lost 55 pounds. His third hunger strike began March 3, 2008 and he is refusing fluids.

The documentary “USA vs Al-Arian” that Melva is taking around the country, details "the absurdity of the show trial held in Florida and the hollowness of the government’s case against Al-Arian. When the film was awarded Best Nordic Documentary at the Nordic Panorama in Finland the jury wrote: 'The film shows precisely how a common man becomes a victim of the situation in the contemporary world, where the Big Brother is watching you even when you´re ordering pizza.'" [1]

The film is also "a close portrait of an Arab-American family facing terrorism charges leveled by the U.S. Government. The film shows a personal story of a family living in a society where fear of terrorism has resulted in increasing stigmatization and discrimination against Muslims. For years, Nahla Al-Arian and her children have been fighting to prove the innocence of husband and father Sami, a Palestinian refugee, university professor and civil rights activist, who has lived in the USA for more than thirty years. In 2003, Sami Al-Arian was accused of giving material support to a terrorist organization and held in solitary confinement for over three years. His six-month trial ended without a single guilty verdict. The failure to convict Dr. Al-Arian was seen as a stinging rebuke for the federal government. While the Bush administration considered this a landmark case in its campaign against international terrorism, Sami Al-Arian claims he has been targeted in an attempt to silence his political views. Because the jury hung on some of the counts, however, Dr. Al-Arian remained in jail as the prosecution threatened to retry him. In May 2006 he agreed to a plea bargain with the US Government in order to put an end to the ordeal and to be reunited with his family. A federal judge sentenced him to 57 months in prison and subsequent deportation…The case of Sami Al-Arian is one of the first major tests of the USA PATRIOT ACT, a controversial law passed hastily after September 11, 2001." [2]


So far the American tax payer has provided approximately $50 million dollars to persecute Dr. Al-Arian. "The government has called 80 witnesses and subjected the jury to hundreds of hours of often absurd phone transcriptions and recordings made over a 10-year period, which the jury dismissed as “gossip.” Of the 17 charges against Al-Arian—including “conspiracy to murder and maim persons abroad’’—the jury acquitted him of eight and was hung on the rest. The jurors disagreed on the remaining charges, with 10 of the 12 jurors favoring his full acquittal…Following the acquittal, a disaster for the government, especially because then-Attorney General John Ashcroft had announced the indictment, prosecutors threatened to retry Al-Arian. The Palestinian professor, under duress, accepted a plea bargain agreement that would spare him a second trial, saying in his agreement that he had helped people associated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad with immigration matters. It was a tepid charge given the high profile of the case." [3]


To schedule a screening of "USA vs Al-Arian"
Contact Melva Underbakke to schedule a screening in your city.
Call (813) 215-3403
E-mail:



1.
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080307_dr_al_arians_third_strike/

2.
http://www.nfi.no/english/norwegianfilms/show.html?id=730

3.
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080307_dr_al_arians_third_strike/








 
   
 
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