Friday, December 14, 2007
Federal judge lifts civil contempt status from Dr. Al-Arian at a hearing held in Alexandria on Thursday
"A federal judge finally lifted the civil contempt status from Dr. Al-Arian at a hearing held in Alexandria on Thursday. Dr. Al-Arian will now begin serving the remaining four months of his sentence.
Judge Gerald Lee granted a defense motion to lift the contempt, after Dr. Al-Arian was imprisoned for eleven months that did not count toward his sentence. Prior to that, he had spent two months for another grand jury in which he refused to testify.
Dr. Al-Arian's family, attorneys, and supporters welcomed the decision by Judge Lee to lift the contempt. They have called on prosecutors not to repeat the tactic of using grand jury subpoenas to extend Dr. Al-Arian's imprisonment indefinitely or charge him with criminal contempt as the government has done in other cases, and recent press has hinted it might do in Dr. Al-Arian's case.
Attorney Jonathan Turley, who represents Dr. Al-Arian in the contempt case, wrote on his blog: "The use of civil contempt to prolong his punishment has been a shocking abuse of the system by the Justice Department."
"Unable to convict Dr. Al-Arian before a jury, prosecutors have sought to mete out their own brand of justice through the grand jury system. It is a tactic used in other cases where the government creates the perfect Catch-22 for unconvicted citizens: choose between a perjury trap and a contempt charge for refusing to enter the perjury trap."......"