Washington, D.C.- April 24, 2009
Nearly fifty supporters, many representing local and national civil and human rights organizations, attended a press conference in front of the Department of Justice in Washington on Friday. On a day that was to see a possible resolution of Dr. Sami Al-Arian’s case, groups from around the country gathered at the Justice Department. The press conference was called after Federal Judge Leonie Brinkema canceled a hearing in Alexandria, VA, scheduled for this morning, that was to determine whether the criminal contempt charges against Dr. Al-Arian would be dismissed.
Sponsored by the Tampa-based Friends of Human Rights, the press conference featured speakers representing a number of major organizations from around the country. They called on the Department of Justice to honor its plea agreement with Dr. Al-Arian, and to drop the charges against him.
Led by Dr. Melva Underbakke of Friends of Human Rights, the speakers addressed the importance of Dr. Al-Arian’s case for the civil rights of all Americans and their faith in the judicial system, echoing Judge Brinkema’s statement that “there is something more important here and that is the integrity of the Justice Department.”
Dr. Al-Arian’s eldest daughter, Laila, updated the media on the latest in her father’s case. She asked that people continue to call for justice in her father’s case as they await the judge’s written ruling on the motion to dismiss the charges. Lois Price of Tampa recalled Dr. Al-Arian’s achievements in his community and stressed the need to continue standing with him in an ordeal that has entered its seventh year.
Rev. Marcia Free of Knoxville, TN, offered a call for Dr. Al-Arian’s freedom based on Christian values of compassion and equality. A member of Friends of Human Rights read a recent letter from Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) to Attorney General Eric Holder that called on the Justice Department to investigate the case. Congressman Kucinich wrote, “Concerns about the government’s conduct in Dr. Al-Arian’s case are growing. …I urge you to review this case, to ensure that any misconduct is addressed and that the integrity of the Justice Department is preserved.”
A formal complaint by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, filed today with the Office of Professional Responsibility against the prosecutor in the case, Gordon Kromberg, was also read at the press conference. It stated in part, “MPAC firmly believes that the attorneys that represent the United States of America should be held to the highest standard of the law. Mr. Kromberg’s statements warrant his dismissal from any cases involving Muslim and Arab Americans as defendants.”
Also speaking were representatives of the ANSWER coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation (MAS-FF).
MPAC files a complaint to the DOJ regarding Federal prosecutor Kromberg
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) filed on April 24th, 2009, a complaint to the Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility against the anti-Muslim conduct of DOJ prosecutor Gordon Kromberg.
The Muslim civil rights advocacy group also released a statement that read in part: “Discriminatory statements have no place in our courts and Mr. Kromberg has become a stain on the great standing and reputation of the Department of Justice and the American judicial system.” It continued: “We are confident that Attorney General Holder will make clear that the Department of Justice will not tolerate its attorneys making generalizations about members of a particular race, religion or ethnic group in our courts.”