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Al-Arian could remain in custody despite bail ruling

[JURIST] Arab activist Sami Al-Arian [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] was granted bail Thursday by a judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website], but it is speculated that he might be detained by immigration officials upon release. The former University of South Florida (USF) [official website] computer science professor allegedly provided supported to terrorist organizations. Judge Leonie Brinkema [official profile] agreed with the motion for bail [PDF text] made by Al-Arian's lawyers earlier this month, finding that he was neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community. Al-Arian agreed to conditions for his release, such as electronic monitoring, to guarantee his appearance at his criminal contempt hearing scheduled for August. In his blog [post], Al-Arian's lawyer Jonathan Turley said that Brinkema was concerned about government interference with a plea agreement requiring Al-Arian to be deported following completion of his federal prison sentence. Brinkema reportedly said that the plea agreement still applied, preventing US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] officials from taking Al-Arian into custody, and that he could not be held indefinitely to prevent his deportation. The Washington Post has more. AP has additional coverage.

Al-Arian was arrested in February 2003 [JURIST report] and indicted [PDF text] on charges of supporting terrorism based on comments he made in the wake of 9/11 and his association with an Islamic think tank at USF in the 1990s. In 2005 he was acquitted [JURIST report] on eight of 17 terrorism charges. The next year he pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to one charge of conspiring to provide services to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad [CDI backgrounder] in violation of US law and agreed to be deported after serving a 57-month sentence. Al-Arian then refused to testify before grand juries that were investigating a group of Islamic charities, and he was charged with contempt [JURIST report]. Last year an appeals court upheld [JURIST report] the contempt ruling.

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