When Sami Al-Arian was arrested in 2003, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft declared a major victory in the “war against terrorism.” Two years later, after the Justice Department had spent an estimated $50 million prosecuting al-Arian, a Florida jury rejected charges that Al-Arian and three co-defendants had financed and promoted Middle East terrorism.
Al-Arian later pled guilty to a single lesser charge, saying he did so to bring the case to a close. That was supposed to lead to his deportation, but Al-Arian is still in jail. (He began a hunger strike a few days ago.) Jonathan Turley, Al-Arian’s lawyer, says that the Justice Department is seeking “to mete out punishment that it could not secure from a jury.”