For Immediate Release
Why Was al-Arian Imprisoned?
WASHINGTON - AP reports today: "A former Florida professor once accused of being a leading Palestinian terrorist was released from custody yesterday for the first time in more than five years, hours ahead of a judge's deadline for the government to explain why he was still being held by immigration officials. ...
"A federal judge on several occasions has expressed skepticism about the government's contempt charges, and last week she ordered immigration authorities to explain by yesterday afternoon why they were continuing to hold [Sami al-Arian]."
Sugg is a journalist and editor who has been covering charges against al-Arian since 1995 and is currently working on a book about the case. His pieces include "Sami al-Arian's Final Persecution."
Sugg is senior editor of the Weekly Planet/Creative Loafing group of newspapers. He began covering al-Arian while he was an editor of the group's Tampa paper.
He said today: "Why and when was al-Arian important? Why did a rogue prosecutor in Virginia seek to keep him in jail? The answers go back more than a decade, when Israel's Likudniks in the United States, such as [journalist] Steve Emerson, were working feverishly to undermine the Oslo peace process. ... Al-Arian (unlike any terrorist I've heard about) was vigorously trying to communicate with our government and its leaders. He was being successful, making speeches to intelligence and military commanders at MacDill AFB's Central Command, inviting the FBI and other officials to attend meetings of his groups. People were beginning to listen and to wonder why only one side of the Middle East debate was heard here.
"That was the reason for al-Arian's political prosecution, and for his recent jailing, a horrendous undermining of our Constitution's guarantees of free speech and fair judicial process."