Today, LINK TV presents the U.S. television premiere of USA vs AL-ARIAN, an intimate documentary portrait of an Arab-American family facing terrorism charges laid by the U.S. Department of Justice.
In February 2003, the FBI arrested university professor and political activist Sami Al-Arian in Tampa, Florida. Charged with supporting the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, classified by the U.S. Department of State as a terrorist organization, he was placed in solitary confinement for two and-a-half years before receiving a trial.
Today, Al-Arian, who is diabetic, is on a hunger strike in protest of his continued imprisonment beyond his scheduled release date, despite being acquitted in a jury trial. His health is deteriorating rapidly, as his food and water strike nears the one-month mark. This timely documentary premieres on U.S. television on the five-year anniversary of Al-Arian's incarceration.
On December 6, 2005, Al-Arian was acquitted in a jury trial on eight of 17 counts, and the jury voted 10 to 2 to acquit on all remaining charges. Accepting a plea bargain to end his ordeal, Al-Arian plead guilty to one count of conspiracy in aiding Palestinian Islamic Jihad associates in nonviolent ways in return for receiving the minimum prison sentence, including time served, and to be deported from the country upon his release.
According to his defense lawyers, the plea agreement stipulates that he would not be subject to any further prosecution or called upon to cooperate with the government on any matter, thus concluding once and for all, all business between the government and Al-Arian.
Yet, Al-Arian remains in prison today, a year beyond his scheduled release date of April 13, 2007. The Department of Justice is now holding Al-Arian in civil contempt for refusing to testify in March before a grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia against others like him accused of supporting Muslim charities that in turn, allegedly, funded terror organizations.
USA vs AL-ARIAN is the personal story of the Al-Arian family, who like many Muslims in the U.S. today, are navigating the new laws and political climate of post-9/11 America. The film follows Al-Arian, his wife Nahla and their five American-born children throughout the trial and its aftermath as they fight terrorism charges. This powerful documentary also explores themes of freedom of speech, civil liberties and the right to a fair trial. It is an up-close family portrait that documents a battle waged both in court and in the media.