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June 21, 2003

Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace Action Alert

Al Arian denied phone calls for 6 months

At a hearing at Coleman Federal Penitentiary yesterday, prison officials deprived Dr. Sami Al-Arian of phone calls to family and friends for a period of six months. Officials said Dr. Al-Arian was being punished because his wife connected him by telephone to his eldest son in London. Although Dr. Al-Arian was allowed to engage in three-way conversations at Orient Road Jail, where pre-trial detainees in Tampa are held, at Coleman Federal Penitentiary, he is treated worse than convicted felons who have more freedom and privileges.

This development is the latest in a series of steps taken by prison officials to psychologically torture Dr. Al-Arian and cause him to lose touch with the outside world. In addition to depriving him of telephone conversations with his family, officials have denied Dr. Al-Arian access to a watch, and they have also removed all clocks from his vicinity. This impedes Dr. Al-Arian's ability to determine prayer times, making it difficult for him to perform his religious duties.

Clearly, the excessively harsh and punitive conditions in which Dr. Al-Arian has been placed are designed to deprive him of any conception of space and time.

Nahla Al-Arian, Dr. Al-Arian's wife, said: "This decision is not only affecting Sami, but it's also affecting the children. It's enough that he already was given very limited phone access- one call a month. We're constantly worried about him as it is, and now we can't even know if he's alive or otherwise unless we visit. If we don't visit, we won't know anything about him. This is inhumane. This is not America, where people's rights are protected. This is torture..."

ACTION ALERT:

Please act IMMEDIATELY to end these atrocious conditions.

Contacts to write, call, fax and phone:

1. Judge Thomas B. McCoun III, U.S. District Court, 801 North Florida
Ave., Tampa, FL 33602

Ask the judge why Al-Arian has not received permission to defend himself. Ask him about Al-Arian's due process rights and inhumane treatment and ask that he be moved closer to family and lawyers.

2. Donald McKelvy, Warden, U.S. Penitentiary, PO Box 1023, Coleman,
FL 33521 352-689-3003; fax: 352-689-3003

3. Harley G. Lappin, Director, U.S. Bureau of Prisons, 320 First Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20534; 202-307-3250; fax: 202-514-6878

Ask why Al-Arian is in solitary, frequently strip-searched and denied phone calls for six months. Ask why he has only limited access to the law library and why there are no reference materials he needs to prepare his case. Ask why he cannot obtain pencils. If he is not convicted of a crime, should he be in Coleman?

3. Write, email or call your Senators and U.S. Representative

Ask them why Al-Arian is being inhumanely treated at Coleman and why he is being denied reasonable access to telephone, lawyers and family in preparing for his trial.

FLORIDA:

--Senator Bob Graham: 850.907.1110; fax: 850.894.3222
--Bill Nelson: 888.671.4091; fax: 407.872.7165 attn; Celeste
--U.S. Rep Jim Davis: 888.266.0205; fax: 727.867.5302 or 813.354.9514
--U.S. Mike Bilirakis: 727.441.3721; fax: 727.442.8180
--U.S. Rep Bill Young 727.893.3191; fax: 202.225.9764

4. Contact the following and ask them to help:

Human Rights Watch, 350 Fifth Ave., 34th Floor, New York, NY 10118
hrwnyc@hrw.orghrwnyc@hrw.org; Center for Constitutional Rights: PH; 212-614-6464; fax: 212.614.6499; info@ccr.ny.org; Amnesty Int'l, Atlanta attn: Derriel Kayongo dkayongo@aiusa.org

5. Dr. Al-Arian needs financial assistance. Please contribute to his defense fund by mailing a check to:

National Liberty Fund:
P.O. Box 22580
Alexandria, Virginia 22304