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It’s time to put an end to the Al-Arian trial

His lawyers are tired, the American Civil Liberties Union is tired, and most of all, Sami Al-Arian, who has been in jail since February 2003, is tired. After six months of trial in which the jury in Al-Arian’s case found him not guilty on eight charges and deadlocked on nine, Al-Arian’s lawyers announced Tuesday in a St. Petersburg Times article that they are “too exhausted to give any more.”

Who could blame them? They defended their client in an unprecedented case that tested the yet-to-be-renewed Patriot Act for the first time ever. The case has been under scrutiny for months while Al-Arian himself has been under scrutiny for years. Still, the federal government is “weeks, not months” from making a decision on whether to continue prosecution on the deadlocked charges, according to a spokesman of Tampa-based U.S. Attorney Paul Perez.

Yet Al-Arian and his loved ones are hanging in there, remaining hopeful. As Oracle columnist Sebastian Meyer noted of his meeting with Nahla Al-Arian, wife of Sami Al-Arian, she “seemed surprisingly upbeat even though members of her family had been put through the justice system without regard for the principle ‘innocent until proven guilty.'”

Al-Arian’s innocence has been proven – on eight of 17 major charges, including one count of conspiracy to murder or maim persons at places outside the United States and three counts of providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. His lawyers did not even have to present one piece of evidence for the jury to reach this verdict.

The ACLU has also spoken out against the continuation of the case. According to the St. Petersburg Times, the Florida ACLU wrote a letter to authorities in charge of the decision of whether the case should continue or not. “In light of the jury’s acquittal – on the most serious charges and in light of reportedly spending millions of dollars in a trial that led to no convictions,” the letter said, “a decision to retry would appear to be pointless and vindictive.”

It surely would.

It’s time to quit putting this man, his family and the American people through the wringer. Let’s not make an example out of him in the context of the Patriot Act, an act that has yet to be renewed by the Senate.

Why continue with this trial, which was supposed to be an unprecedented test of the Patriot Act, when our own lawmakers – who supposedly represent our interests – are not even sure if it should be renewed? Sami Al-Arian’s time as sacrificial lamb to the Patriot Act slaughter should end.