Whenever the issue of political and civil rights in the US comes up, we should remember first and foremost the case of Sami al-Arian. The Palestinian former professor of computer science remains in a federal prison in Florida despite having completed the 57-month sentence he was given in May last year (which included time already served in prison). That sentence itself was in breach of an agreement under which he had been promised immediate release and deportation if he pleaded guilty to a single charge of supporting a terrorist organization, despite having been cleared by a jury of 17 associated charges. He pled guilty only because he concluded that the US authorities were determined to justify their persecution of him and that that was the only way he would ever be released.
Now the authorities have reneged on another part of the agreement. They are demanding that he testify before a grand jury regarding related cases, despite being promised that his guilty plea would end his involvement. He has been held in contempt of court; as much as 18 months imprisonment could be added to his sentence as a result.
Sami al-Arian has been on hunger strike since January 21, protesting against his treatment. He has lost more than 30lb (14kg), and collapsed from weakness. His family and American Muslim organizations are campaigning for his release. They deserve all the assistance and support Muslims elsewhere can give them.
For more info, please go to www.freesamialarian.com