Jailed Palestinian Professor Transferred, Alleges Prison Abuse
The jailed Palestinian professor Sami Al-Arian is claiming to have suffered new abuse at the hands of prison guards. Al-Arian has been transferred from North Carolina to a new prison in Virginia. He recently ended his 60-day hunger strike at the urging of his family. He had lost 53 pounds and become too weak to walk. Earlier today we spoke to Sami al-Arian’s daughter Laila for an update on Sami’s condition.
- Laila al-Arian: “On Thursday morning one day before my father was supposed to have been released from prison after his four year imprisonment [under his initial plea deal] he was assaulted by racist guards. They took away his legal materials. At one point an officer was stripping my father and asked him ‘Where are you from, Afghanistan?’ My father refused to [answer] the question but [the guard] kept repeating it several times. And then he finally told my father “‘It doesn’t matter where you’re from. If I had my way, you wouldn’t be in prison, I’d put a bullet in your head and get it done with. You’re nothing but a piece of [expletive].’ My father told him ‘Why do you say that? You don’t know me.’ The guard replied: ‘I know enough about all you guys. You’re all pieces of [expletive]. You can go pray to the f— that you pray to.’ My father asked the guard what his name was, he refused to answer. His lieutenant also continued hurling obscenities at my father. He kept squeezing his handcuffs and restraints tighter and tighter till my father was numb for four hours from the trip from Petersburg to Alexandria, Virginia. They just kept telling him to shut the f— up and each time they would tighten his shackles to increase the pain. It’s important to say that this same guard who harrassed my father yesterday back in January he told him ‘You’re a terrorist, I can tell by your name.’ So this is clearly a pattern from these guards and nothing is being done to stop this kind of harassment and abuse.”
Al-Arian remains in jail despite a jury’s failure over a year ago to return a single guilty verdict on any of the 17 charges brought against him. The U.S. government had accused him of being a leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He eventually signed a plea deal with the government in exchange for being released and deported. He was scheduled to be released in April. But in January judge James Moody Jr. sentenced him to an additional 18 months in jail for refusing to testify before a Virginia grand jury.