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Letter to the Editor

USF community must speak out on Hammoudeh’s behalf

For the past 39 months, I have been detained by the U.S. government for no legitimate reason. The government stripped me of my liberty based on deception, shallow investigation and manipulation of facts. I am in jail awaiting deportation, waiting for a permit from the U.S. government that it claims it has been seeking from Israel since December 2005. Israeli officials, however, have already said they have no problem with my return. But the government is insisting on taking a different track. Such behavior shows the government’s desire to punish me for not cooperating with its prosecutors and for not testifying falsely against Sami Al-Arian, my co-defendant.

The community of intellectuals in any society is the brain of that society. If such a community freezes its relationship to the body of that society, death is imminent. I hope the USF community will be aware of the deterioration of the positive values in American culture, especially those of human rights. My case with the American government is a clear example of such deterioration.

Solitary confinement, strip searches for no legitimate reasons, denial of family contact visits and one telephone call for 15 minutes once a month for two years: These are some of the conditions I have been suffering only because I worked with Al-Arian at the local Islamic school and at the local mosque. An FBI agent, who exercised the worst kind of behavior in my case, thought I would be the best witness against Al-Arian. His plan was to put pressure on me so I would cooperate and testify falsely. If the agent gets Al-Arian, he will be famous and get promoted.

Is this America? Is this the way a rational, developed leader of the free world fights terrorism? For a long time, the American tradition was that you cannot punish people for their mere association with others. I have been punished for that, and it seems that my ordeal is without end.

One of my dreams is to confront that FBI agent and the four prosecutors who worked on my case in an open forum. I have many questions to ask. I want answers not for me, but for the taxpayers who paid a few million dollars to run the case.

It is nice to see the government paying attention to human rights around the world, but I would like to ask, “How about me?” Why did the government strip me of my liberty based on the lies of one of its FBI agents and invent a case against me? Is it because I am a stateless Palestinian who the government finds it easy to prey on? Had I been an Israeli citizen, a Christian or a Jew, would the government do to me what it has done so far?

I want my voice to be heard and for the American people to know what their own government is doing to me. I hope that people will say something to this arrogant government to at least let me go and join my family, which was deported on Feb. 8, 2006. I am a human being. I deserve the attention of America’s citizens until I am a free man.

Sameeh Hammoudeh was a co-defendant in the Sami Al-Arian case and is a former USF student and instructor.