Al-Arian, Controversial Former Professor, Deported

February 9, 2015

Sami Al-Arian, who was fired as a tenured professor by the University of South Florida in 2003, was deported last week from the United States to Turkey. Al-Arian was fired after he was indicted on federal charges of helping a terrorist group. In 2005, a jury cleared him of some charges and deadlocked on others -- convicting him of nothing. He has continued to deny doing anything illegal, but in 2006 he accepted a plea agreement under which he served jail time and agreed to be deported after that. The university said after the 2005 jury decision that it would not take him back as a professor. Many faculty groups over the years criticized the way the university handled the case -- especially for suspending him, prior to his indictment, after comments he made were viewed by Florida politicians as supporting terrorism. The university said that his presence on campus could lead to disruption or safety issues.

Jonathan Turley, who in the past was part of Al-Arian's legal team, posted on his blog a statement in which he said the case "raised troubling due process, academic freedom and free speech issues."

Turley's blog also features a statement from Al-Arian in which he said in part: "Today, freedom of expression has become a defining feature in the struggle to realize our humanity and liberty. The forces of intolerance, hegemony and exclusionary politics tend to favor the stifling of free speech and the suppression of dissent. But nothing is more dangerous than when such suppression is perpetrated and sanctioned by government."

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