Al-Arian hinging hopes on June court date in Virginia

Sami Al-Arian, who has been in prison for more than four years on terrorism-aiding charges, is hoping to convince a circuit judge in June of his refusal to testify, Sami’s wife Nahla said Thursday.

“My husband is not going to testify,” Nahla said. “He’s not going to change his mind. His imprisonment has encouraged him not to testify. It’s not like a punishment, it’s like coercion. … We are praying the judge listens this time.”


Nahla said she and Sami hope the judge will be convinced that Sami will not testify, and therefore release him from contempt.

Al-Arian, a former USF engineering professor, is being held in contempt of court for refusing to testify in a Virginia case.

Al-Arian pleaded guilty last year to aiding a terrorist organization, but contends that he signed a plea agreement stating he didn’t have to testify. That came after Al-Arian was acquitted on eight of 17 terrorism-aiding-related charges during his trial in Tampa.

The past two weeks have been somewhat tumultuous for Al-Arian and his family.Last week, prison authorities in Virginia said they planned to investigate the possibility that Al-Arian suffered abuse from guards.

Al-Arian told his family that he was cursed at and kept in freezing temperatures.

“This corrections officer saw my dad and asked the question, ‘Where are you from, Afghanistan?'” Al-Arian’s daughter, Laila, told The New York Sun. “‘It doesn’t matter where you’re from. If I had my way, you wouldn’t be in prison. I’d put a bullet in your head and get it done with it. You’re nothing but a piece of s—.'”

Nahla said Sami’s lawyers haven’t heard back from the prison about the investigation, and calls made to the prison Thursday afternoon were not immediately returned.

After more than four years of legal battles, prison visits and raising her children alone, Nahla said she’s prepared for the worst when it comes to the outcome of her husband’s saga.

“It takes its toll,” she said. “We’re stuck in legal purgatory right now … I have two teenagers, and they need their father and his guidance.”