The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 70/No. 18           May 8, 2006  
Palestinian rights supporter Al-Arian
accepts plea deal; may now be deported
MIAMI—Palestinian rights supporter Sami Al-Arian accepted a plea agreement on April 17 that will allow the U.S. government to deport him. Last December, the government’s more than 10-year case against the former University of South Florida professor collapsed when a jury acquitted him and two others of charges of terrorism. Al-Arian was returned to prison after the trial while the government decided on whether to retry him on some of the deadlocked charges or seek to deport him.

“He did not plead guilty to any crime of violence, and by pleading he gave his family closure in this ordeal,” said his attorney, Linda Moreno. Al-Arian has spent more than three years in prison on charges of “racketeering, conspiracy to maim and murder,” and of providing material support to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He was denied bail upon his arrest in February 2003, put in solitary confinement, and fired from his job. Numerous demonstrations and meetings were organized on his behalf in Tampa.

In the plea agreement, Al-Arian pled guilty to a charge of “conspiracy to provide services” to a “terrorist” organization. This included aiding three individuals associated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad with immigration issues, fighting against their deportation, and concealing their connection to the organization. The government was unable to link Al-Arian or the other defendants to any “terrorist” acts in the five-month trial, during which they presented nearly 80 witnesses, 1,800 faxes, wiretap transcripts, and e-mails.

Agha Saeed of the Citizens Committee for Equal Justice issued a statement calling the agreement “a victory for Dr. Al-Arian, his family and the Palestinian people. It is a matter of public record that Dr. Al-Arian has won his freedom by acknowledging, asserting, and upholding his support for Palestine and Palestinians.”  
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