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Background Information



Co-founder Amer Jubran Arrested November 4th, 2002

On Saturday, November 2nd, the newly formed NECDP commemorated the 85th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration with a rally and march through downtown Boston. Two days later, one of our founding members, Amer Jubran, was taken from his home by agents of the FBI and INS. Although Amer has not been charged with any crime, he is currently imprisoned at the Adult Correctional Institution in Cranston, Rhode Island, and, under current US law, he could be detained there indefinitely. While the case is being handled under the jurisdiction of the INS, its substance has nothing to do with whatever alleged technicality the INS is holding him for; Amer has already been interrogated by the FBI, which displayed particular interest in his political activities in Boston.

Amer's arrest is a terrible event, and not just for those of us who are his friends and colleagues. It is an attack not only upon him and upon the New England Committee to Defend Palestine, but also upon the Palestinian people and everyone who supports justice for Palestine. This attack--part and parcel of the Bush administration's anti-Arab and anti-immigrant policies--makes it clear that the present government has no patience for sustained criticism of its support of Israel, especially when such criticism comes from the Palestinians themselves.

Those of you who have been politically active in Boston over the past year should find this familiar. This past May, Jaoudat Abouazza (another Palestinian activist, and a Canadian citizen) was arrested in East Cambridge for an alleged traffic violation, and was imprisoned in the Bristol County House of Corrections, where he was repeatedly interrogated by the FBI about his activities and those of other supporters of Palestine. In addition to constant abuse and harassment at the hands of his guards and the prison administration, Jaoudat had several teeth forcibly removed while in custody. A concerted defense campaign led by Boston A.N.S.W.E.R. and the Jaoudat Abouazza Defense Committee won his freedom after forty-one days in jail, and he was sent back to Canada.

The previous November, Amer himself won a four-month legal battle that began when a supporter of Israel claimed that Amer had kicked him at a demonstration in Brookline which he had organized with the International Action Center. Amer was shackled and dragged to a local jail, where he was held for 36 hours before being granted his first phone call. With help from Boston A.N.S.W.E.R., the ACLU, the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Howard Zinn, Chuck Turner, and many other groups and individuals, the charges were dismissed and the case was turned back around at the Brookline police, who would now be facing a counter-suit for intimidation, corruption and harassment--if Amer hadn't been arrested again.

Boston Indymedia has just posted a detailed account of Amer's arrest, which you can read here.

Bond Hearing

Bond hearing scheduled

The INS, against its wishes, has been forced to schedule a bond hearing for Amer, which will take place next Thursday, November 21st, at 9:00 AM. In one sense, this is a major victory, which everyone who wrote letters, sent faxes, or made phone calls should take credit for. The INS arrogantly told Nelson Brill, Amer's lawyer, that they were going to hold Amer indefinitely (which echoed a previous threat made to Amer himself by the FBI), and thanks to a combination of public and legal pressure, they have already had to back down from their first position.

In another sense, though, our work is just beginning. It's outrageous that Amer will be in jail for another week--in fact, it's outrageous that he was put in jail at all. There is no guarantee that bond will be set, or that it will be reasonable, and if Amer is released on bond, it's unlikely that the INS and FBI will give him back his freedom unless we leave them with no choice. If you've called, faxed, or written the INS before, now would be a good time to do so again; if not, more information can be found below. Remember, this time we are not only insisting that a reasonable bond be set, but that the INS drop all proceedings against Amer immediately and stop using him as a grindstone for their political axes. When you call or write, don't thank the INS too much for setting a bond hearing; remember, they had to be forced to do so, and even a week is hardly immediate. Since we don't want Amer to spend an hour more in jail than he's forced to, we must be prepared to pay whatever bond the court sets. Please send financial contributions to the Amer Jubran Defense Committee, PO Box 755, Jamaica Plain, MA, 02130, and if you wish to earmark funds to be used for bond money (funds which would be returned to you as soon as this travesty is over), feel free to do so. Also, keep writing Amer at Amer Jubran, ID# 122331, Intake Service Center, PO Box 8249, Cranston, RI 02920--your letters have been a great comfort to him, as have your other efforts.

AJDC visits INS

Nine-Person Delegation Visited the Boston INS Office

A nine-person delegation from the Amer Jubran Defense Committee visited the Boston INS office Tuesday morning at 10:30AM and demanded to speak with the District Director regarding the fact that Amer's bond hearing has not yet been scheduled. After an hour-long wait and several contradictory statements from INS staff members, the request was denied, and the AJDC is currently organizing a demonstration this Friday at 8:00 AM outside the JFK Federal Building (across from the Government Center T stop) to demand that Amer be granted a bond hearing immediately and, further, that the INS drop all proceedings against him as soon as is possible. There will be an on-site press conference at 9:00 AM.

Please continue writing INS District Director Stephen Farquharson--his address, and further suggestions, can be found below. Here are several new sample letters--(1), (2), (3), (4). Please remember that personalized faxes or letters--especially those that identify your address, phone number, and standing in the community--are much harder for the INS to ignore. Many people have written the INS, given them their daytime phone number, and asked for a personal explanation of why Amer's bond hearing has not yet been held. We recommend this approach, and suggest that if the INS doesn't respond to your request, you should call them and ask them why they haven't.

Detailed information on the visit, along with an interview that Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner gave to WMBR News reporter Aimee Smith in the INS office, will be available shortly

Bailed Out

Amer Released on Bail
A concerted international campaign won Amer's release after 17 days in INS detention. The INS is still continuing proceedings against Amer, so we cannot relax yet, but, happily, Amer will be able not only to organize his own defense but to continue the political work which he was jailed for over two weeks ago.  He and the rest of the NECDP will be picketing outside of the Israeli consulate this Monday in response to the IDF's recent attacks against Hebron, Gaza, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, and other cities and towns in occupied Palestine.

This press release was put out on the evening of the 21st. More statements, as well as a report of repeated INS misconduct regarding both Amer's detention and his defense campaign, will be available soon.

We are all pleased, of course, that thanks to international personal, legal and political pressure, Amer Jubran is no longer in INS custody. Our work, however, is just beginning. Amer's next hearing is scheduled for February 2003, but we have no intention of letting this travesty drag on that long. It's up to us to force the INS, with such pressure as they've never seen, to drop all proceedings against Amer immediately. We must also make this case a model for the dozens of other defense cases being fought nationwide, and we must draw the link between Amer and the hundreds of other innocents, particularly Arab men, who have been detained unconstitutionally or illegally in the last year or before. Perhaps most important, we must connect this case to Amer's lifelong struggle on behalf of the people of Palestine.

Bond Hearing

Bond hearing, Thursday, November 21st

Assemble tomorrow at 8:00AM, directly outside the
Government Center T stop entrance.

Once enough supporters have gathered there, we'll brief everybody on Amer's situation and then start channeling people into the courtroom. We are planning for an informational picket after the hearing takes place, but our primary goal is to fill Judge Shapiro's court with people unwilling to tolerate anything less than Amer's immediate release from INS detention. Please do not be late; it will take some time to get everyone into the building, and it's vital that the courtroom be full when the proceedings begin. As of right now (Wednesday morning), we're not sure whether the INS is going to let Amer attend in person or force him to appear via videoconference, but we should know by this afternoon.

The support which Amer has received worldwide was instrumental in securing his bond hearing, which the INS originally refused to grant him, and we think that a strong show of support at the courtroom will be an important component in securing his release. It's important to remember, though, that we owe the INS no gratitude or respect for scheduling such a hearing, especially after Amer has already spent over two weeks in INS detention. Amer was arrested illegally, without a warrant, and, during the arrest, was verbally and physically assaulted by INS agent David Atkins. Moreover, he was arrested for obviously political reasons--the INS, after threatening him with fifty years in prison, told him that he would be home by lunchtime if he answered the FBI's questions about his political organizing in Boston. It was only after Amer invoked his constitutional right to have an attorney present that he was arrested. (These points are addressed by many of the letters of support which the INS has received).

Amer is also being held illegally. As his lawyer, Nelson Brill, has repeatedly indicated to the INS, the single technical violation which the INS alleges that Amer has committed provides no grounds, even according to the INS's own rules, for detaining Amer indefinitely. Amer, already familiar with governmental abuse of activists from his time in Palestine, has kept his papers in perfect order since he moved to this country; but as a lawful, permanent resident of the US with no criminal record whatsoever, he would not be eligible for mandatory detention under any terms, even if he had made whatever minor, technical error the INS is using as a pretext for holding him in custody.

The will of the INS, as expressed by INS agent Mike Clifford--who hung up on Amer's lawyer immediately after telling him this over the phone--is to detain Amer indefinitely without having to give reasons. Our will is that Amer be released immediately so that he can continue his articulate and courageous political activism on behalf of the Palestinian people, which is the only reason he was put in jail in the first place.


On the morning of November 4, 2002, well-known Palestinian rights activist Amer Jubran was arrested by INS agents at his home in Cumberland, Rhode Island. Only two days earlier, Amer had helped to lead a march for Palestinian rights in Boston—the first demonstration organized by the New England Committee to Defend Palestine, a group which he had helped to create. The details of his arrest make it clear that he was the object of political targeting:

  • The arrest was a joint operation carried out by agents of the FBI and the INS.
  • The FBI attempted to question Amer about his legitimate political activities and explicitly threatened him with indefinite INS detention if he refused to cooperate.
  • The arrest took place only after Amer insisted on his right to have a lawyer present for this attempted interrogation.

The INS proceeded to hold Amer for 17 days at the Adult Correctional Institution in Cranston, RI, without bail. They informed his lawyer that they intended to hold him indefinitely, but refused to cite any charges or infractions of INS regulations that would warrant such detention. After a concerted international campaign of public pressure, the INS finally agreed to hold a bond hearing. Amer was released on minimum bond on November 21st.

The INS has nevertheless continued its illegitimate harassment. Amer now faces an INS order of deportation based on false allegations of technical violations in his green card status.

These actions conform to a pattern that is increasingly clear under John Ashcroft's Department of Justice. The INS is now regularly used in concert with the FBI as a political tool to target Muslims, Arabs, and political activists. Hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Arab and Muslim men have been subjected to indefinite detention without trial since September 11. Palestinian activists such as Ahmad Benshouda, Jaoudat Abouazza, and Mazin al-Najar have been aggressively pursued, detained and forced to leave the country.

Racial profiling, politically motivated arrests, and detention without due process violate both the principles of the U.S. Constitution and fundamental rights guaranteed by international law.

Pre-trial hearing

February 27, 2003

At a pre-trial hearing on February 27, 2003, at the JFK Federal Building in Boston, the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service made clear its intention to continue its politically motivated prosecution of Palestinian human rights activist Amer Jubran. Appearing before INS Judge Leonard Shapiro, the government prosecutor revealed it has no witnesses and will rely on an immigration technicality in its effort to have Jubran deported. Jubran now faces a full-blown deportation hearing on July 24, despite that the government dropped one of its allegations.

The courtroom was packed with Jubran's supporters. Dozens protested outside after the hearing. Activists vowed to keep up the pressure to force the government to drop all charges.

Regarding the illegal aspects of Mr. Jubran's arrest and detention, he filed a formal complaint with the INS Regional Office in Boston on January 30th and forwarded complaint letters to the Regional District Director on February 5th.

Trial Extended, Postponed

July 27, 2003


U.S. Government Attempts to Railroad Palestinian Activist

No Evidence Supporting Its Claims, Government Drags Its Feet and Continues Attack on Palestinian Activist

With hundreds of demonstrators outside and the hallway leading to the court room packed with supporters, an INS Judge began the removal hearing of Palestinian activist Amer Jubran on Thursday, July 24th.

The INS prosecutor Rick Neville appeared 10 minutes late and continued to employ delaying tactics to insure that the hearing was not concluded that afternoon. The INS Judge allowed endless questioning of Amer's ex-wife by the prosecution even though the judge found many of the questions were not relevant and would probably not have any bearing on the sole question of whether Amer's previous marriage was valid. Taking the position that "we'll see where this leads" and "allowing both sides to develop their case", the Judge's refusal to conduct the hearing in a timely and orderly fashion allowed the prosecutor to ask not only embarrassing questions of Amer's ex-wife, but also questions that were solely of a political nature: what were Amer's political views, what political discussions did Amer have with his ex-in-laws, did Amer ever leave the country during your marriage. The prosecution merely withdrew the most outrageous questions when Amer's attorney objected.

Similarly egregious, the prosecution presented to the Judge a report filed by an FBI agent after questioning of Amer's ex last November. Neither a copy of this report nor its contents had been previously revealed to Nelson Brill, Amer's attorney, prior to July 24th even though he had formally requested copies of all reports. Moreover, the Judge had required each side to submit witness lists and all evidence/exhibits to the court no later than June 24, 2003. Again, the Judge failed to apply his own rules and allowed the late submission of the report to the potential detriment of Amer's ability to defend against false accusations.

Moreover, the Judge did not fairly implement his declaration of wanting to give both sides ample leeway to develop their cases. Rather, the Judge cut short Amer's counsel questions regarding INS/FBI harassment of other family members, cautioned counsel to be very careful before lodging charges of intimidation and obstruction of justice against the U.S. government and opened the hearing declaring that no one in "this" country should be afraid to come to court to testify.

One conclusion to be reached from the day's hearing is that the "fist inside the velvet glove" of the facade of democracy and due process in this country appeared in the form of a kindly, soft-spoken, gray haired judge. Although a sharp conclusion, it is supported by the fact that the Judge was aware and stated in court that if the hearing did not conclude that afternoon his next available date for the rest of the hearing might not be until September of 2004! The insensitivity of the Judge to the pressures and limitations the pendency of this case puts upon Amer, his family and friends was startling. To our great relief, as of this writing, the Court has continued Amer's hearing to Thursday, September 25th, 2003. This still is too long of a delay, but is better than waiting 14 months.

The most encouraging aspect of Thursday's hearing was the courageous appearance of Amer's ex-wife. Defying FBI/INS very recent intimidation of her sisters and parents, putting aside her family's fearful requests that she not appear, she not only appeared in court but withstood two plus hours of cross-examination by the INS attorney. The dignity and composure of this working class Puerto Rican woman directly in the face of the U.S. government was truly inspirational. She never wavered from the truth that she and Amer married out of love and divorced due to financial pressures that face so many young couples in this heartless capitalist system.

To give the Judge credit, he also concluded that Amer's ex-wife was a good and credible witness. The Judge related to Amer's ex-wife's financial situation when he cutoff part of the prosecution's questions regarding her financial status and remarked that "There are people who just don't have telephones." The Judge also stated that he had heard cases like this before and a witness' inability to recall details from five years earlier did not necessarily concern him. He also noted that it was not unusual for couples to mistake a marriage license for a marriage certificate. At the conclusion of the day the Judge even invited Amer into his chambers for an off the record discussion with the attorneys. The Judge's unexpected show of respect for Amer took the prosecution by surprise and apparently made them quite uncomfortable. The Judge suggested that he had heard enough and that he was prepared to rule that Amer's marriage was valid and to dismiss the charge. It was the prosecution that insisted upon additional hearing time and continued political harassment of Amer.

Unfortunately this case is not unique. Courts are often incredibly insensitive to the impact a court proceeding has of the lives of people in front of them. Court are more often than not more than generous to the Government's abuse of the court system and the system's own rules. Attorneys often resort to employing delay tactics in their court strategy. "Justice delayed is justice denied" is not only an admonition but also often the game plan.

However, the most significant "game plan" employed by the U.S. government is to attempt to silence dissent and intimidate those who dare to speak out for Palestine and speak out against injustice. The government's attack on Arab and Muslims is an absolute ploy to divert attention away from the real "trained killers" within the ranks of the U.S. ruling class, its client/puppet states and its paid mercenaries. The more effective the voice of dissent, the more relentless the government's attack.

Amer is a strong, clear voice for justice. Whether we are in the chorus, singing a duet, studying the sheet music or sitting back and enjoying the song, the music of resistance continues and will not be silenced. Long live the Intifada!