Trial of Palestinian professor begins in Florida

The trial of former Palestinian professor Sami Al-Arian began June 6 in Tampa. The government has accused Al-Arian and 8 others of racketeering, conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists. The government alleges that Al-Arian used an Islamic academic think tank and a Palestinian charity to illegally funnel money to the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Until his arrest, Al-Arian was one of the most prominent Palestinian academics and activists in the United States. He was invited to the White House during both the President Clinton and Bush administrations and he campaigned for President Bush during the 2000 election.

Al-Arian has already faced one court setback — late last month the court rejected his request to move the trial outside of Tampa. Al-Arian’s defense team had argued that the local media’s biased coverage had prejudiced potential jurors. Al-Arian’s lawyer, William Moffitt said “I am extremely disappointed. This is probably the first time that I will go into a case believing that my client is not presumed innocent.” (Democracy Now!, June 6)

See also WW4 REPORT #74