Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 4 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Exclusive to OpEd News:
OpEdNews Op Eds   

Abuse of judicial system to keep Dr. Al-Arian in prison

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   1 comment
Message Abdus Sattar Ghazali
Become a Fan
  (1 fan)

Since March 3, 2008, Palestinian activist and a former professor of South Florida University, Dr. Sami Al-Arian, is on hunger strike again to protest continued government harassment. On that day he was informed that he would be called to testify before a third grand jury in Virginia on March 19, only three weeks before his scheduled release date of April 7, 2008. But his release is likely to be pushed back indefinitely when he appears before the grand jury.

As a matter of fact, Dr. Al-Arian is in a Catch-22 situation. Assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, Gordon Kromberg, is setting up for him a perjury/obstruction trap. If Dr. Al-Arian again refuses to testify because of the no-cooperation agreement, he will be charged with obstruction of justice and could receive several additional years in prison. If he testifies, he faces a 'perjury' trap based on past practice with other acquitted Palestinian defendants.

Kromberg has charged other acquitted Palestinian defendants with perjury, when they did testify before his grand jury. Other acquitted Palestinian defendants have been charged with "obstruction of justice," when they declined. The other acquitted Palestinian defendants facing the same "Hobson's choice" have been given "terrorism-enhanced" sentences of 5 to 10 years whether they answered grand jury questions or not after juries already acquitted them of the underlying charges.

In November 2007, Dr. Abdelhaleem Ashqar, a Palestinian-American former professor at Washington's Howard University, was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for refusing to testify in 2003 before a grand jury investigating the Palestinian militant movement Hamas. Dr. Ashqar was convicted of criminal contempt and obstruction of justice. Tellingly, in February 2007 a jury had acquitted Dr. Ashqar of all terror-related charges.

“A great nation is ultimately defined and judged by its system of justice,” Al-Arian said in a statement released through his family. “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.”

On the third testimony call Dr. Al-Arian’s lead Counsel, Professor Jonathen Turley, said: “Having lost the case in Florida, the Justice Department has openly sought to extend his confinement by daisy-chaining grand juries. As in other cases, the government has given Dr. Al-Arian the choice of an obvious perjury trap or a contempt sanction. It is a choice that is obnoxious to our legal system and contrary to any standard of decency.”

The mistreatment of Dr. Al-Arian remains an international symbol of how the Bush Administration has discarded fundamental principles of fairness in a blind pursuit of retribution against this political activist, he stressed.

When Dr. Sami Al-Arian was arrested in 2003, the then Attorney General John Ashcroft declared a major victory in the “war against terrorism.” Two years later in December 2005, after the Justice Department had spent an estimated $50 million prosecuting him, a Florida jury rejected charges that Al-Arian and three co-defendants had financed and promoted Middle East terrorism.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

Abdus Sattar Ghazali Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

American Muslims alarmed at the new profiling policy

American Muslims Seven Years after 9/11

The plight of prisoner No. 650 (Dr. Afia Siddiqui)

Arab Americans Continue to Face Discrimination: Report

Reinforcing prejudice, stereotyping

Redrawing the map of Afghanistan, Iran & Pakistan

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend