Al-Arian, target of investigations and trial, deported to Turkey


(JTA) — A Palestinian activist who faced a U.S. government case that mostly collapsed after being brought to trial was deported to Turkey.

Sami Al-Arian, a computer science professor in south Florida, was investigated in the 1990s and 2000s for allegations that an Islamic think tank he helped found had ties to Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups.

Al-Arian landed in Istanbul on Thursday, one of his former lawyers, Jonathan Turley, said on his blog. It is not clear how Al-Arian, a stateless Kuwait-born Palestinian refugee, settled on Turkey as a destination in his negotiations with the U.S. government.

According to a timeline posted Thursday in the Tampa Bay Times, a jury in 2005 acquitted Al-Arian on eight charges and deadlocked on nine. The next year he accepted a plea deal, admitting that he assisted people associated with terrorists in immigration matters.

The deal was to be for time served followed by deportation, but faced complications when Al-Arian refused to testify in another federal case in Virginia.

He was jailed for a period and then placed under house arrest. A federal judge in 2009 suggested the government was treating him unfairly. Prosecutors last year dropped criminal contempt charges against Al-Arian.

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