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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A federal judge keeps USF professor's terrorism case in limbo

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — For five years, a federal judge upset with the prosecution of a former Tampa professor once accused of being a leading terrorist has refused to rule on his case. It has left the government unable to deport him, unable to prosecute him and flummoxed on how to move forward.

 In April 2009, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema told lawyers she would rule "soon" on whether to dismiss criminal contempt charges filed in Virginia against former University of South Florida computer science professor Sami Al-Arian, a prominent Palestinian activist, who refused to testify in a separate terror-related investigation.
The ruling hasn't come, and nothing has happened in the case, unusual for Alexandria's federal courthouse known in legal circles as the Rocket Docket for its swift disposition of cases.
On the surface at least, Al-Arian — who has declined to invoke his speedy trial rights — benefits from his silence and the standoff. If the Virginia case were dropped, Al-Arian, 56, would be deported under a plea deal reached with federal prosecutors in Tampa in May 2006...

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