War on Terror: illegal arrest

Report from Jean-Pierre Barrois

Published: 09/12/02

Free Amer Jubran

Amer Jubran is of Palestinian descent, and now a permanent resident in the U.S. He was recently arrested, illegally (see below). After an international campaign, a first victory was scored in obtaining that Amer Jubran be released from jail on a bond, pending a full trial. Nevertheless, although he was released from jail on bond, the charges against Jubran have not been dropped. Hence, in a moment, he could be returned to jail and forgotten.

His lawyers believe that an international campaign of support can make the difference in getting the charges dropped. Please send any messages of support to: Jean Pierre Barrois barrois@univ-paris12.fr

Who is Amer Jubran?

Amer Jubran is a 33-year-old permanent resident of the United States and holder of a "green card." A Palestinian, Amer Jubran has lived in this country for many years, and currently resides in Cumberland, Rhode Island.

Amer Jubran is an outspoken activist for human rights. He has focused particular attention on Palestinian human rights. Amer Jubran meticulously files his immigration papers and maintains a completely legal status, in part because of his political activity and his desire to ensure that there is no immigration-related pretense for his political views to come under attack.

Amer Jubran is a founding member of the New England Committee to Defend Palestine (NECDP). He was a key organizer of other significant Palestinian-related events in Boston, including a rally and march on April 6, 2002 rally in downtown Boston which drew close to 2,000 people. He was also a speaker at the mass anti-war rally held in Washington, D.C. on April 20, 2001. He also appears frequently as a guest lecturer at area campuses, including MIT, Northeastern University, Worcester State College, and Emerson College.

What are the basic facts of Amer Jubran's arrest, and what is his current status?

At around 8:00 a.m. on Monday, November 4, Amer Jubran was taken into custody at his Cumberland, Rhode Island home by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. He was transferred to an INS holding facility at the Adult Correctional Institution in Cranston, Rhode Island later that day, where he is being held while the INS investigates what they call "violations of INS statutes." There are no criminal charges whatsoever against Amer Jubran.

The motion from Amer Jubran's legal team that a bond hearing be held to determine whether Amer Jubran can be released pending the adjudication of his case has been accepted. His supporters are working to ensure that this hearing takes place immediately.

Was this a legal arrest?

Amer Jubran's legal team is investigating the legality of this arrest. The arresting agents of the FBI and INS did not identify themselves properly when they arrived at Amer Jubran's home. They did not read Amer Jubran his rights, and they attempted to search his house without a warrant. He was told that he was wanted for questioning and that he would be returned at noon.

Once taken into custody, Amer Jubran was brought to the INS facilities in Providence, Rhode Island. There, the FBI attempted to interrogate Amer Jubran, who demanded that he be provided access to legal counsel. The questions he was asked were of a political nature. He was not allowed to make a phone call for several hours.

Why is Amer Jubran being detained, and why now?

The detention of Amer Jubran is politically motivated, as the involvement of the FBI makes clear. On Saturday, November 2, just two days before his arrest, Amer Jubran helped lead a rally and march through downtown Boston called by the New England Committee to Defend Palestine. The rally and march commemorated the 85th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration that promised Zionism a homeland in Palestine.

The arrest of Amer Jubran is an attack not only upon Amer Jubran himself, but also a political attack on the New England Committee to Defend Palestine, on the Palestinian people, on people of Arab descent throughout the United States, and on everyone who supports justice for Palestine. The alleged "technicality" being used to detain Amer Jubran is part and parcel of the post-September 11, 2001 atmosphere of political repression and the suspension of civil liberties that has been pushed by President George Bush and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Have there been other such attacks?

The detention of Amer Jubran is part of the larger sweep of Arab Americans that took place immediately after September 11, 2001, when hundreds were taken into custody by federal authorities. Many are still in detention.

More specifically, Palestinian activists working with the New England Committee to Defend Palestine have been targeted in the past. In late May 2002, 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. This arrest came less than two weeks before a march and rally called for June 9 by the NECDP and other organizations to protest "Israeli Day" festivities. A concerted defense campaign won Jaoudat Abouazza's freedom after forty-one days in jail, and he was sent back to Canada - but not before the government had sent a chilling message to others of Arab descent who had planned to participate in the June 9 march and rally.

Amer Jubran was one of the leading figures in the effort to win Jaoudat Abouazza's freedom, frequently visiting him and organizing protests of Abouazza's detention. According to Abouazza, Amer Jubran was of intense importance to his FBI interrogators.

Has Amer Jubran been subject to any previous political arrests?

On June 10, 2001, Amer Jubran was arrested by the Brookline Police at a protest of an Israeli Independence Day celebration, after a celebration attendant accused Jubran of kicking him. At that time, Amer Jubran was shackled and dragged to a local jail, where he was held for 36 hours before being granted his first phone call. The charges were dropped in November 2001 after a long legal battle that exposed the political nature of the charges and revealed no evidence of the allegation. A later investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) revealed that during the day, the Brookline Police took close-cropped head shots of all of the sixty or so protesters (including a nine-month-old infant), and that this information was shared with both the FBI and the Israeli Consulate in Boston.