Saturday, October 11, 2003

He fought the law and the law won ... again

(Thanks to How Appealing for bringing this to light) A Palestinian activist who refused to provide a federal grand jury with any testimony he believed would harm his family and friends and bring retribution on himself ended up in jail again after being indicted on contempt charges, according to this Washington Post story.

Abdelhaleem Hasan Abdelraziq Ashqar, a former professor at Howard University, refused to provide any information but his name, his address, and his profession. I find this story interesting because Mr. Ashqar spent 180 days in jail 5 years ago on the same issue. Being held in prison on contempt charges are not meant to be punishment, but are meant to encourage compliance with government subpoenas. After remaining on a hunger strike the entire time he was in prison last time (the prison system force-fed him to keep him alive), you'd think they would learn he does not wish to speak. But according to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in this opinion, this time they think it's different--he's older and wiser, they say.

Mr. Ashqar has been on a hunger strike since September 5, when the government took him in custody for failing to cooperate with their investigation. He may be held until the grand jury concludes its investigation, until the government (again) concludes that the imprisonment is ineffective, or until he complies. My heart is with you, Mr. Ashqar.

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