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JUDGE: RELEASE HAMMOUDEH

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    The co-defendant in the Sami Al-Arian case has been in jail for three years. He was acquitted of all terrorism charges in December. JUDGE: HAMMOUDEH SHOULD BE
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 2, 2006
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      The co-defendant in the Sami Al-Arian case has been in jail for three
      years. He was acquitted of all terrorism charges in December.


      JUDGE: HAMMOUDEH SHOULD BE RELEASED
      Meg Laughlin
      St. Petersburg Times
      2/21/06
      http://www.sptimes.com/2006/02/21/Tampabay/Judge__Hammoudeh_shou.shtml


      TAMPA -- A federal judge has said he would order Sameeh Hammoudeh
      released from jail pending deportation. But during a hearing Tuesday,
      U.S. District Judge James S. Moody, Jr. added that he doubted
      immigration would release Hammoudeh despite the order.

      "But at least we have the federal judge saying he should be released,"
      said Hammoudeh's attorney Stephen Bernstein.

      Hammoudeh has been held in jail for three years on charges that he
      transferred money to a terrorist group in the Occupied Territories of
      Israel. In early December, he was acquitted of all charges. He was a
      co-defendant of former University of South Florida professor Sami
      Al-Arian.

      After his acquittal, Hammoudeh expected to be deported under terms of
      a plea deal on unrelated tax and immigration law charges. But he
      remains in jail.

      "It makes no sense. All of my rights are being violated," Hammoudeh
      told the St. Petersburg Times, Tuesday.

      The reason for his incarceration, according to federal prosecutor
      Alexis Collins: "He has no stay of removal to be redetermined."

      Collins, in government terminology, is describing a kind of
      bureaucratic limbo.

      In essence, when Hammoudeh pleaded guilty in the tax case in exchange
      for being deported, he should have been shipped out. It takes a "stay
      of removal" to delay deportation. But Hammoudeh was already in jail in
      connection with the terrorism trial. With no risk of his fleeing, ICE
      didn't need to do the paperwork to freeze his deportation.

      So, Collins is saying ICE is apparently waiting for paperwork asking
      that Hammoudeh not be deported, in order to be able to reverse the
      paperwork and legally deport him.


      Collins said that Hammoudeh's wife, Nadia, who also pleaded guilty in
      the tax case, got to leave the U.S. for Jordan with their six kids two
      weeks ago because she had a "stay of removal" which was reversed. This
      stay and reversal, she said, made Nadia's case different from her
      husband's, which explains why she was deported and got to go and he
      didn't.

      "Legal jibberish," Bernstein called Collins' argument.

      " It's simple: Hammoudeh was acquitted and should not be in jail," he
      said.

      Steve Crawford, the Hammoudehs' lawyer in the deportation case,
      referred to the "absurdity of the situation" and said he was
      disappointed that the government was thwarting Hammoudeh's release and
      deportation, rather than helping them along.

      "I'd like for the government to explain why Sameeh Hammoudeh is being
      treated differently from his wife," Crawford told Moody.

      "Holding him without due process is improper, and either ICE or the
      prosecutors should explain why," Bernstein said.

      Moody's response: "If Hammoudeh is not released by March 7th, the
      burden will be on ICE to say why he's held."

      March 7th will mark 90 days that Hammoudeh has been imprisoned since
      his acquittal. By law, ICE officials are allowed 90 days from the
      acquittal date to act, or they must explain their refusal to do so.

      ICE spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez would not say why Hammoudeh is still
      in jail. "I can only say we're moving ahead with his removal," she said.

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