Al-Arian indicted on contempt charge

06/27/08 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday

Former USF professor Dr. Sami Al-Arian, who has completed his sentence and was awaiting deportation, was indicted Thursday on two counts of contempt of court in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Dr. Al-Arian was tried in Tampa in 2005 and found not guilty of eight charges.

Al-Arian signed a plea agreement in 2006 under government threats of a second trial. He pled guilty to one count of assisting associates of a terrorist group with nonviolent activities. His sentence was supposed to end in the spring of 2007, but it was extended by one year as he was held in contempt of court for refusing to testify before a grand jury in an unrelated case. He finished serving his sentence more than two months ago and has since been in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement awaiting deportation to join his family who moved from Tampa to Egypt last year.

Linda Moreno, his attorney in 2005, said Thursday’s indictment is just another example of the U.S. Department of Justice acting in a political manner.

Al-Arian's current attorney Jonathan Turley issued a statement saying that the plea agreement with the government does not require Al-Arian to cooperate and that he has no information to provide on the Virginia case. WMNF attempted to speak with Turley, but he did not return our calls by airtime.

Al-Arian’s daughter, freelance journalist and author Laila Al-Arian, said that the latest indictment is a way for the government to punish her father after a jury found him not guilty.

"It's just a continuation of government harassment and persecution of him. And it's very clear that this is a vindictive move by them to increase his time in jail and to persecute him and torture him."

Moreno said the government was only trying to get Dr. Al-Arian to testify before the grand jury in order to create an excuse to charge him with perjury, what she called a classic perjury trap.

Laila Al-Arian said the government could keep her father in prison for many more years if he is found guilty of contempt and the uncertainty is affecting her family.

Free Sami Now!

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The behavior of my government is so far from my value system in this brings me to tears....almost as much as my sympathy for this family who has been so our system. In the face of this....I cannot lie to myself that our system is just. I am sorry.