tampabay.com

Al-Arian gets more prison time

By MEG LAUGHLIN
Published November 17, 2006


Sami Al-Arian, who has 174 days left on a 57-month sentence for aiding a terrorist group with nonviolent activities, was found guilty of contempt in federal court in Alexandria, Va., on Thursday.

His sentence will now be put on hold while he serves up to 18 months for the contempt charge. He will then serve the remaining 174 days.

Al-Arian and his attorneys said his subpoena to testify before a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia violated his plea agreement. But James S. Moody, a Tampa federal judge, ruled last week that the written plea agreement did not give him immunity from testifying before a grand jury in Virginia, despite oral negotiations to the contrary.

But Al-Arian refused to answer questions about a Virginia Islamic think tank when questioned several weeks ago in Alexandria by assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg. After that, he was brought up on contempt charges and found guilty Thursday.

Al-Arian's status will be reviewed every six months, for up to 18 months. Then, when the contempt sentence is completed, he will serve the remaining 174-day sentence for the terrorism charge and be deported.

According to his plea agreement, Al-Arian was due to be released from prison and deported in April. But, now, he could be imprisoned until November 2008.