JUDGE: RELEASE HAMMOUDEH
- 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
St. Petersburg Times
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
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
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
"Legal jibberish," Bernstein called Collins' argument.
" It's simple: Hammoudeh was acquitted and should not be in jail," he
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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