9/11 : Dr. Sami Al-Arian Begins Hunger Strike
Posted by musliminsuffer on January 24, 2007
=== News Update ===
Dr. Sami Al-Arian Begins Hunger Strike
Never Convicted Muslim Professor Lingers in Prison and Harassed by the Government
WASHINGTON, DC – Jan. 23, 2007 (MASNET) Yesterday, Dr. Sami Al-Arian began a hunger strike to protest continued government harassment. Earlier, Dr. Al-Arian appeared before a new grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, where he was subpoenaed by a federal prosecutor to testify a second time in the same case. After Dr. Al-Arian expressed his ethical stance against testifying, a judge in the Eastern District of Virginia held him in civil contempt, once again prolonging his suffering and imprisonment by up to 18 months. Dr. Al-Arian’s originally scheduled release date is April 13.
Last November, the same judge placed Dr. Al-Arian in civil contempt for not testifying. At the time, his attorneys argued that cooperation was a clear violation of the plea agreement he reached with Florida prosecutors last May. One month after he was held in contempt, the grand jury term expired. However, less than a month later, a new grand jury was once again impaneled by Gordon Kromberg, a federal prosecutor who allegedly boasts about his contempt for Muslims and Arabs while touring Israel.
During yesterday’s court appearance, Dr. Al-Arian’s attorney requested to delay the judge’s decision until further evidence could be brought to light supporting Dr. Al-Arian’s decision not testify and the highlighting the government’s abuse of power. However, the judge denied the request and ordered that Dr. Al-Arian be held in civil contempt. -Please read below Dr. Al-Arian’s statement before the judge-
This is the second hunger strike by Dr. Al-Arian, who is a diabetic, during his nearly four-year imprisonment. Following his February 20, 2003 incarceration, he went on a 140-day hunger strike to protest the government’s political persecution. During that time, he was hospitalized and lost 45 pounds.
In recent weeks, Dr. Al-Arian has been placed under particularly arduous conditions after he was moved from Warsaw, Virginia to Atlanta because of what prison authorities deemed a “mistake.” Not only did the nonsensical move further isolate Dr. Al-Arian from family and friends, but he was also denied phone calls and visitations in Atlanta.
Mahdi Bray, Executive Director of MAS Freedom Foundation stated “The government after years of incarcerating Dr. Al-Arian and spending millions of the taxpayers’ dollars, was unable to get a single conviction by a federal jury in this case. In short they lost the case. Yet they’ve used every trick in the book to persecute Dr. Al-Arian and his family. His prison treatment is extremely inhumane, including periods of 23 hour lock-down in a rat and roach infested environment, deliberately improperly dressed while forced to walk in sub-freezing weather, and threats and abuse from guards and U.S. marshals. These latest developments in Dr. Al-Arian’s case are a clear and outrageous display of government corruption and abuse of power. In spite of an agreement intended to resolve his case once and for all, the government has continued to harass Dr. Al-Arian and mire him further in legal purgatory. Clearly the U.S. Bureau of Prisons is complicit in the inhumane treatment of Dr. Al-Ari!
an. Congress, who has oversight over the U.S. prison system, needs to be alerted to this abuse and inhumane treatment.”
Dr. Al-Arian vows that he will remain on a hunger strike until the government ends its vindictive campaign against him and allows him to return to his wife and children.
ACTION TO BE TAKEN
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 Alberto Gonzales
Department of Justice
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20530-0001
Fax Number: (202) 307-6777
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) 225-0072 Fax
John.Conyers@ mail.house. gov
4- Senator Patrick Leahy
433 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
senator_leahy@ leahy.senate. gov
Dr. Al-Arian’s Statement before Judge Gerald Lee of the Eastern District of Virginia
January 22, 2007 (Fair summary not verbatim):
“Thank you, your honor, for giving me the opportunity to address the court. First of all, I have no contempt whatsoever for this honorable court, but all the respect in the world for it.
The initial draft of the plea agreement presented by the government to my defense team contained a cooperation clause. I told my defense team, Bill Moffitt and Linda Moreno, that my belief system and conscience are totally against talking about anyone, and if the government insisted on including this section they should break off negotiations and proceed towards trial. The chief prosecutor in my trial, Mr. Terry Zitek, acknowledged as much during the November 6, 2006 hearing in Tampa before Judge Moody when he said: `Mr. Al-Arian said no cooperation and we said fine and took it out.’
Furthermore, from the outset of the negotiations both the government and the defense agreed that the disposition of the count I pleaded to on level 26 with three points deduction to level 23. The sentencing guideline for level 23 is 46-57 months. It was also agreed between the parties that I will receive time served and have an expedited deportation. Therefore, the government agreed to recommend the low-end of the guideline, which was essentially time served.
However, there was always the risk that the judge (Moody) would go for the higher end or somewhere in between. So I asked Mr. Bill Moffitt what we could do to ensure the low end. He advised me that the only way to guarantee the low end would be to include cooperation which I totally ruled out; this would have reduced it to level 21 with a maximum sentence of 37 months, way below the time served. So I took the risk of serving 11 more months; in fact I am serving 11 more months for totally refusing the cooperation section.
Moreover, in August 2000, I was subpoenaed by the government in a federal immigration proceeding, and I was asked the following question: “Do you believe in the use of violence to free Islam? My answer was one word, “No.” Despite the absurdity and awkwardness of such a question, it was count 47 in the indictment and count 50 in the superseding indictment.
I also would like to bring to the court’s attention to the way I have been treated for the past three weeks. In the past three weeks, I have been to four prisons. I spent fourteen days in the Atlanta penitentiary under 23-hour lockdown, in a roach and rat infested environment. On two occasions, rats shared my diabetic snack. When I was transported from Atlanta to Petersburg (Virginia) and from Petersburg to Alexandria, they allowed me only to wear a t-shirt in subfreezing weather during long walks. In the early morning, the Atlanta guard took my thermal undershirt which I purchased from the prison and threw it in the garbage and when I complained, he threatened to use a lockbox on my handcuffs which would make them extremely uncomfortable. In Petersburg, the guard asked me to take off my clean t-shirt and boxers and gave me dirty and worn out ones. When I complained, he told me to `shut the f up.’ And when I asked why he was treating me like that, he said `because you’re a terrorist.’ When I further complained to the lieutenant in charge, he shrugged it off and said if I don’t like it, I should write a grievance to the Bureau of Prisons. When I said he had the authority to give me clean clothes, he refused and said if I don’t like it I should write a grievance to the Bureau of Prisons. During one of the airlifts, an air marshal further tightened my already tightened handcuffs, and asked me `Why do you hate us?’ I told him, `I don’t hate you.’ He said, `I know who you are, I’ve read your s-h-i-t.’ These are examples of the government’s harassment campaign against me that’s been taking place for years because of my political beliefs.”
The judge then interrupted Dr. Al-Arian and told him that he should not be harassed but that he (the judge) has no control over the bureau of prisons. He added that Dr. Al-Arian should not be mistreated because of his political beliefs. He nonetheless held him in contempt.
The Freedom Foundation is the public affairs arm of the Muslim American Society (MAS), a national grassroots religious, social, and educational organization. MAS is America’s largest grassroots Muslim organization with over 50 chapters nationwide. Learn more at www.masnet.org
Montreal Muslim News Network – http://www.montrealmuslimnews.net
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