(TBO.com) Federal prosecutors in Virginia moved Friday to drop criminal contempt charges against former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian, a Palestinian activist whose case has sat in limbo for five years in front of a skeptical judge.
If the motion is granted, Al-Arian would be deported under the terms of an order entered in Tampa in 2006 as part of his sentence following a plea deal after his prosecution on terrorism charges mostly fell apart.
Al-Arian has been a target of the Justice Department for more than a decade. He was initially charged with playing a leadership role in the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He ended up taking a plea bargain on greatly reduced charges after jurors failed to convict on any charge and deadlocked on some.
Since 2008, prosecutors in Virginia have pursued contempt charges for his refusal to testify before a grand jury investigating charities accused of funding terrorist operations overseas.
For five years, the case has sat dormant on the court docket. Judge Leonie Brinkema questioned prosecutors’ tactics and refused to rule on pretrial motions.
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