Dr. Al-Arian Released on Bail!After 5 Grueling Years, a Moment of Repose
Fairfax, VA - September 2, 2008 - After five-and-a-half years of harsh and gratutious detention, former Florida professor and civil rights activist Dr. Sami Al-Arian was released on bond, reuniting with his family for the first time since his ordeal began in 2003.
Earlier today (Tuesday), the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) filed an order for the release of Dr. Al-Arian from their custody. Judge Brinkema originally granted Dr. Al-Arian bail on July 10 and reaffirmed that decision last month, but the ICE continued to detain him until today on the pretext that they were completing deportation procedures.
Last week, Dr. Al-Arian's attorneys filed a petition for habeas corpus with the court, challenging the continued unlawful detention by ICE. Judge Brinkema gave the government until today to respond. Their response came in the form of an order for Dr. Al-Arian's release on bail.
Dr. Al-Arian's family was overjoyed upon hearing the news. Four of his five children along with his attorney met him at an ICE facility in Fairfax, Virginia earlier this afternoon. "We couldn't believe our eyes," Leena, Dr. Al-Arian's second oldest daughter, said. "We were so relieved. It's been 2,020 days since he's last been with us."
His eldest daughter Laila added that "We are overjoyed that our father is finally back with us after what felt like an eternity. I hope that this is just the beginning, that he'll be finally released for good, and that this horrific nightmare will be over. We'd like to thank all the people who've supported my father throughout the past several years. Their consistent dedication and hard work in the cause of justice has been invaluable." Dr. Al-Arian - who is unable to make any direct statements to the press because of his legal situation - echoed these sentiments, expressing his heartfelt appreciation for the countless thousands who have shown their support for his case.
Sami Al-Arian with Lawyer Jonathan Turley "We owe so much to our lawyers, Prof. Jonathan Turley, Will Olson, and P.J. Meitl," Abdullah Al-Arian told the TBCJP. "Their incredible work for justice has allowed our family to finally be reunited after so long. On behalf of my father and my family, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts."
For his part, Dr. Al-Arian's lead attorney Jonathan Turley told the AP "We are obviously relieved and delighted," noting that the release would allow Sami to see his son off to college and to spend the Muslim holy month of Ramadan with his family.
Dr. Al-Arian will remain under house arrest until he is brought to trial for the current contempt charges against him or until several motions for dismissal are decided. On August 8th, Judge Brinkema postponed the trial pending Dr. Al-Arian's appeal before the Supreme Court concerning the prosecution's violation of the 2006 plea agreement.
This is a great day for freedom and justice in America. We would like to express our gratitude to all of you who protested Dr. Al-Arian's imprisonment, wrote letters, made telephone calls, supported the defense fund, and offered their prayers and support. Your efforts HAVE made a difference. Stay tuned for more updates on how to help our campaign grow!