Prison Folds Under Pressure from Call-In Campaign
In Response to Telephone Calls and a Court Order, Dr. Al-Arian Transferred Again
August 6, 2008 Alexandria, VA -
       Following a week-long campaign to bring an end to his harsh treatment at the hands of officials at the Pamunkey Regional Jail in Hanover, Virginia, Dr. Sami Al-Arian has finally been removed from solitary confinement. Moreover, following a brief stint at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth, Virginia, Dr. Al-Arian was brought back to the Alexandria Detention Center where he awaits trial on criminal contempt scheduled for August 13.
       The latest move followed a flurry of activity in Dr. Al-Arian's pre-trial detention, which his attorney, Professor Jonathan Turley, has called "unconstitutional." Since being granted bail by Judge Leonie Brinkema on July 10, Dr. Al-Arian has been moved between facilities no less than five times. After being taken from Alexandria to the Pamunkey Regional Jail, where he was subjected to punitive conditions, Dr. Al-Arian was brought to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in Fairfax last week. Upon his return to Pamunkey, officials there refused to accept him because of the high volume of telephone calls to the facility in protest of its abuse of Dr. Al-Arian's rights. The immigration agents then transported him to the Hampton Roads Regional Jail, 200 miles away from Dr. Al-Arian's family and attorneys in Washington.
       In addition to the protests by concerned citizens, Dr. Al-Arian was also aided by several motions by Professor Turley to the court highlighting the government's abuses. One motion called for a delay in the trial date because Dr. Al-Arian has been denied his constitutional right to prepare for trial by consulting with his attorneys. While Judge Brinkema has yet to rule on that request by the defense, she has expressed concerns over the government's abuses. According to a post on Professor Turley's blog, "In a telephone conference, Judge Brinkema took the government to task for its constant movements of Dr. Al-Arian. She stated that the situation was raising very serious questions over his 6th Amendment rights and said that she could think of no reason why the government is putting him so far from the court and counsel. She also expressed concern of these moves on Dr. Al-Arian's health and said it was a terrible waste of taxpayers' money to force a defendant to drive 100 miles back and forth to a court or counsel."
       Following this conference, the Court issued an order for Dr. Al-Arian to be brought back to Alexandria within 48 hours. He arrived at the Alexandria Detention Center at midnight, his fifth move in the past three weeks.
       A hearing in which all pre-trial motions will be argued is scheduled for this Friday, August 8 at the Albert V. Bryan Federal Courthouse in Alexandria, VA. All concerned citizens are urged to attend this critical hearing that will likely determine the nature of Dr. Al-Arian's upcoming trial.