Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Justice Department letter confirms Al-Arian abused by guards

In early 2007, Sami Al-Arian was verbally and physically abused by federal prison guards, according to the inspector general for the Department of Justice.

Last week, Al-Arian's attorney, Jonathan Turley, received a letter from an investigator from the Justice Department, agreeing with Al-Arian's complaint that he had been abused.

"It is very unusual to get a letter of this kind," said Turley. "It suggests that the evidence carried a great deal of weight."

At the time, Al-Arian was on a hunger strike in a Virginia jail, protesting being held beyond his sentence for refusing to testify before a grand jury.

The former University of South Florida professor had been sentenced to 57 months in Tampa federal court for aiding members of a terrorist group in nonviolent ways. But the Virginia incarceration was apart from that sentence.

The abuse occurred while Al-Arian, who was gaunt and sickly from starvation, was being transferred from a federal facility in Petersburg, Va., to one in Alexandria.

According to his family, Al-Arian said that a guard who was strip-searching him told him if he had his way, Al-Arian would be dead instead of in prison. He then hurled obscenities at the former USF professor, insulting his religion.

During a four-hour van trip to Alexandria, the same guard and a lieutenant tightened his handcuffs and shackles seven times, increasing the pain each time. In Alexandria, the lieutenant "physically abused Al-Arian by pushing him into a wall," according to the letter from the inspector general's investigator.

In his letter to Al-Arian's attorney, inspector general's investigator Glenn G. Powell wrote that "a preponderance of evidence supports Al-Arian's allegations." Powell also wrote that the findings have been reported to the Bureau of Prisons "for appropriate action."

Traci Billingsley, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Prisons, said the evidence was being reviewed to decide on discipline for the two officers, who were not named in the letter. "Up to the termination of the two corrections officers," she said.

Meanwhile, Al-Arian is out on bail in Virginia, waiting to see if he will be tried for criminal contempt for refusing to testify before a grand jury.

Justice Department letter confirms Al-Arian abused by guards 12/10/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 11:48am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Florida ranks high for workplace equality between men and women

    Working Life

    When it comes to the workplace, Florida ranks fifth in terms of gender equality, a WalletHub study released Tuesday found.

    Florida ranks high in terms of equality between men and women in the workplace. Pictured is Sandra Murman, county commissioner in 2015, talking about the differences in pay between men and women. | [Times file photo]
  2. Is Ed Sheeran sexy? An investigation

    Music & Concerts

    Start with the guitar. Guitars are sexy, right? Historically, anytime anyone straps on a guitar, it's only a matter of time before they come running.

    Ed Sheeran, who sold out three shows at Madison Square Garden last year, opened for Taylor Swift’s “Red” tour and now has a new album called “x” (as in multiply), at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, June 14, 2014.  ?  I don?  t look like your typical pop star,?   says the pint-size 23-year-old British folk singer with a mop of red hair and an unassuming mien. ?  I don?  t sing songs like your typical pop star.” (Jesse Dittmar/The New York Times) -- PHOTO MOVED IN ADVANCE AND NOT FOR USE - ONLINE OR IN PRINT - BEFORE JUNE 22, 2014.
  3. Dates and itinerary for Tampa City Council trip to Cuba finalized

    Local

    TAMPA — The dates are set and the itinerary is largely finalized for the Tampa City Council's first official trip to Cuba since the Cuban Revolution.

    Tampa City Council Chairwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin will be a part of the city council delegation to Cuba this October. [Credit: City of Tampa]
  4. Survey: Few consumers shop for lower prices on health care

    Health

    Despite having more financial "skin in the game" than ever, many consumers don't make any attempt to compare prices for health care services, a newly released study found.

    Photo illustration. [istockphoto.com]
  5. And the most-searched NFL player in Florida is ...

    Bucs

    The Bucs just faced the Jacksonville Jaguars in preseason, and open their 2017 season at the Miami Dolphins. So with the state's NFL competition ahead of and just behind the Bucs, who do you think is the NFL player most searched on Google by Floridians?

    Fans react with excitement moments after the Bucs announce their first-round pick at the team's 2016 NFL draft party. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]