Man Acquitted in Al-Arian Case Still Being Held

March 22, 2006

Source: St. Petersburg Times

On March 22, 2006 the St. Petersburg Times reported, "Government attorneys finally told Sameeh Hammoudeh, Tuesday, the main reason they're keeping him imprisoned: because they can. This explanation was their response to a lawsuit filed by Hammoudeh's lawyer, Stephen Bernstein, against U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and others. The suit claims that Hammoudeh's continued incarceration in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement wing of the Manatee County Jail is unconstitutional because he has been acquitted in the Sami Al-Arian case and received no jail time in a separate tax fraud case, in which he agreed to be deported. But government attorneys argued in their written response Tuesday that the overriding reason Hammoudeh remains in jail is because ICE can legally keep him for six months, according to a U.S. Supreme Court decision. In the Zadvydas case, the Supreme Court said it was illegal to keep a deportee in jail for more than six months without justification. The government, relying on an 11th Circuit appellate reading of Zadvydas, says the opposite also is true: Hammoudeh 'cannot state a claim for unreasonable detention' until the six months is up. Hammoudeh's argument that his continued imprisonment is unconstitutional is 'premature,' says the government."