Raleigh-Durham Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST)

Revolutionary socialist youth in the US South

Emergency Demonstration and Press Conference to Free Sami Al-Arian

Posted by raleighfist on March 13, 2008

Emergency Demonstration to Free Sami Al-Arian
Saturday, March 15 11:30pm
Raleigh NC, Federal Building on New Bern Ave

Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation and Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST) youth are calling for a demonstration and press conference to Free Sami Al-Arian. While his 3rd hunger strike carries on, his health continues to deteriorate as he is a diabetic and the wardens refuse to give him the needed IV. He is currently being held the Federal prison in Butner, NC and attention is needed to this case.

The press conference is scheduled for 12noon. Please get there by 11:30 so we look strong when the press arrives!

Call Khalilah Sabra of MAS FF at 919-345-8105 or Dante Strobino of FIST at 919-539-2051 for more information.

Free Sami Al-Arian!
Free Palestine!

Emergency Demonstration and Press Conference to Free Sami Al-Arian
Saturday, March 15 11:30pm
Raleigh NC, Federal Building on New Bern Ave

Background to the case

After being traced and followed for over eight years by the federal government for his political perspectives and civil rights activism, Dr. Al-Arian was arrested on Feb. 20, 2003, on charges of supporting terrorism, namely sending financial support to organizations participating in the liberation movement in Palestine. He was subsequently fired from his position as an award-winning tenured professor at the University of Southern Florida.
After being repeatedly denied bail, Dr. Al-Arian and his two co-defendants were almost immediately placed into some of the harshest and inhumane prison conditions possible. They were allowed only one 15-minute phone call per month, allowed visits with immediate family only, were given limited access to attorneys, allowed to change undergarments only once a week, allowed to change prison jumpsuits only once every two weeks and held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. Dr. Al-Arian was allowed only limited medical attention for his diabetes and asthma, was refused any mattress or pillow, subjected to continuous extremely low temperatures in the cell and subjected to strip-searches three times a day even though he is not allowed contact visits.
These conditions have persisted the entire four years of his imprisonment.

In a letter this February to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Amnesty International pleaded that “The conditions under which Dr. Al-Arian has been detained both during his pre-trial detention, and since his sentencing, appear to be unacceptably harsh and punitive, contrary to the standards cited above. International standards discourage the use of prolonged cellular or solitary confinement and provide that prisoners must have access to adequate sanitation, clothing, fresh air and exercise. … We are concerned by evidence suggesting that some of the harsh treatment, including alleged abuses by guards, has been based, at least in part, on his political background.”

Following a ten-year investigation and a six-month trial in which the government was afforded every opportunity to present its case and spend some $80 million, the jury still was unable to find him guilty of the charges against him. Over 80 witnesses, hundreds of hours of taped conversations, and thousands of pages of documents were presented, all of which led jurors to the same conclusion: The government failed to produce any evidence to support its charges.

Dr. Al-Arian was found innocent of eight of the 16 charges against him, while jurors disagreed on the remaining charges by a count of 10 to 2 favoring his full acquittal. Two others in the case, Ghassan Ballut and Sameeh Hammoudeh, were acquitted of all charges, dealing a final blow to the government’s theory in the case.

In Dec. 2005, Dr. Al-Arian was acquitted of all his charges, yet the federal government has kept him in jail in hopes of retrying him. In exchange for Dr. Al-Arian’s plea on one of the lesser charges, the government had agreed to drop all remaining charges and expedite his release and voluntary departure to another country.

Most Recent hunger strike provocation

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.

TAKE ACTION

Please write to the following individuals to ask for an immediate end to Dr. Al-Arian’s
suffering:

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
BY E-MAIL:
E-mails to the Department of Justice, including the Attorney General,
may be sent to AskDOJ@usdoj.gov.

3- The Honorable John Conyers, Jr
2426 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-5126
(202) 225-0072 Fax
John.Conyers@ mail.house.gov

4- Senator Patrick Leahy
433 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
(299029)224- 4242
senator_leahy@ leahy.senate.gov

Emergency Demonstration to Free Sami Al-Arian
Saturday, March 15 11:30pm
Raleigh NC, Federal Building on New Bern Ave

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