(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/28/14) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights group, today welcomed a decision by federal prosecutors in Virginia to drop charges in a long-stalled case against former Florida professor Dr. Sami Al-Arian.
Al-Arian has been targeted by the government for his political activity for more than a decade. A 2005 trial in Florida ended in acquittals on eight counts and a hung jury on nine other counts, with 10 of 12 jurors voting to acquit Dr. Al-Arian of all counts. To avoid a threatened re-trial, Al-Arian pleaded guilty to one count, which also allowed for his deportation.
But before his deportation, Al-Arian was served with a subpoena calling him before a grand jury to testify about Muslim organizations in Virginia. Al-Arian said the subpoena violated his plea deal and constitutional rights. In 2008, Al-Arian was indicted on two counts of criminal contempt for refusing to testify. The case has been in limbo since that time, with Dr. Al-Arain under house arrest while his appeals were considered.
SEE: Feds Drop Sami Al-Arian Prosecution (Politico)
A documentary film, USA vs. Al-Arian, documents the Al-Arian family's desperate attempt to fight terrorism charges leveled by the U.S. government.
“We welcome the fact that this case, which has gone on far too long, has finally been dropped,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “Fair-minded observers of this case have always maintained that the government's ongoing efforts were politically-motivated and due in no small part to frustration at not being able to convince a jury of Dr. Al-Arian's guilt in 2005.”
Awad said the government should stop targeting American Muslim leaders for constitutionally-protected activities and expressed regret that the government was still pursuing deportation against Dr. Al-Arian.
A statement released by Al-Arian's family applauded the dismissal of the charges:
“We are glad that the government has finally decided to drop the charges against Sami Al-Arian. It has been a long and difficult 11 years for our family in what has ultimately been shown to be a political case. We are relieved that this ordeal finally appears to be at an end. We hope that today's events bring to a conclusion the government's pursuit of Dr. Al-Arian and that he can finally be able to resume his life with his family in freedom.”
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, firstname.lastname@example.org