AN AL-ARIAN CRITIC COMES TO HIS DEFENSE03/28/07 Rob Lorei
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FIRST UP TODAY, A LONGTIME LOCAL CRITIC OF DOCTOR SAMI AL-ARAIN HAS COME TO HIS DEFENSE…AL-ARIAN--a former usf engineering professor who has pleaded guilty to giving material aid to members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, contends that federal prosecutors have double-crossed him by calling him in front of a grand jury in Virginia after he agreed to a plea bargain.Under terms of his agreement Al Ariuan was supposed to be released from prison next month…. If the government's position is upheld, the former University of South Florida computer-engineering professor's stay in American jails could be extended by 18 months or more.In April 2006, Al-Arian pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide assistance to a designated terrorist group. His guilty plea followed a lengthy trial in Tampa in 2005 that ended with his acquittal on eight counts and jurors deadlocked on nine others.The prosecution and defense proposed a 46-month prison term for Al-Arian, which amounted to little more than the time he served before, during, and after his trial. However, Judge James Moody Jr. gave Al-Arian 57 months, the maximum under federal guidelines.Soon after that unexpectedly lengthy sentence was handed down, a federal prosecutor in Virginia, Gordon Kromberg, began proceedings to summon Al-Arian before a grand jury investigating a Herndon, Va.-based think tank, the International Institute of Islamic Thought. Al-Arian moved to quash his subpoena, arguing that the plea deal with prosecutors in Florida relieved him from having to testify. Last week he ended a 60 day hunger strike to protest his treatment and the actions of the prosecutors… In today’s edition of the St. Petersburg Times, longtime Al-Arian critic Barry Augenbraun, writes a lttter to the editor criticizing what he says is prosecutorial abuse in this case. Augenbraun was our guest for this segment today.