Attorneys for Sami Al-Arian are asking a federal judge in Virginia to release the former University of South Florida professor on bail while he awaits trial on charges of criminal contempt.

Al-Arian has completed his federal sentence for helping a terrorist group, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but is still behind bars because he refused to testify before a federal grand jury investigating Islamic charities in Virginia.

Under the terms of a plea deal in Tampa, Al-Arian was to be deported after serving his federal prison sentence. Family members, including his wife, moved to Egypt, but expect to return to the U.S. soon, according to a bail motion filed by Al-Arian’s attorneys.

A bail hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday in Virginia, according to court records. Al-Arian is scheduled to go on trial Aug. 13.

Attached to the bail motion are letters from Al-Arian supporters urging his release.

“Dozens of people have lined up to offer their assistance, including putting up their homes as a guarantee for his return to court,” said defense attorney Jonathan Turley on his blog. “Dr. Al-Arian would normally to be an easy case for bail, particularly given his willingness to wear an electronic bracelet to allow continual monitoring. As we argue in these filings, the opposition to bail is a continuation of a long and abusive campaign by the Justice Department to prolong his confinement by any means or method.” (MORE)


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