Judge postpones Al-Arian trial08/08/08 Mitch E. Perry
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The next trial of former USF professor Sami Al-Arian has been postponed after a judge raised new doubts about the validity of the prosecution.
Al-Arian had been scheduled to go on trial next week in Virginia on contempt charges after refusing to testify to a federal grand jury about a case unrelated to his original terrorist related charges. But today, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema overruled prosecutors' objections and postponed the trial indefinitely. In doing so, she questioned whether the government was overeager in filing charges and whether prosecutors had properly filled out the paperwork demanding Al-Arian's grand jury testimony.
With the trial being postponed, plans for a busload of Al-Arian supporters to leave Tampa for Virginia has been canceled.
But Sami Al-Arianâ€™s wife, Nahla, told WMNFâ€™s True Talk host Ahmed Bedier that they want supporters to continue to write to the Justice Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement condemning what she says is abusive treatment of Al-Arian in jail and demanding his deportation.
After Al-Arian pleaded guilty to one count in his federal terrorism trial, he was supposed to be deported to an unknown country. Instead, he has been compelled to testify in an unrelated case involving an Islamic think tank in Virginia. He has steadfastly refused to cooperate with the federal prosecutor there, Gordon Kromberg, which led to contempt of court charges earlier this year.
But last month, Judge Brinkema pronounced that Al-Arian was not a danger to the community nor a flight risk, and granted him bail before his scheduled Aug. 13 trial. However, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement invoked the jurisdiction it has held over him and has kept him in various jails over the past month.
Nahla Al-Arian today praised Judge Brinkema.
Federal prosecutors objected to Brinkemaâ€™s ruling, saying it could have long-term implications in compelling people to comply with court orders.