Dr. Tarek Mehanna is a 28-year-old Muslim, an Egyptian-American and a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. He has been held in solitary confinement 23 hours a day since his arrest in 2009.
Mehanna’s trial begins with jury selection on Oct. 24 at the Moakley Federal Court House in Boston. The Free Tarek Mahanna Support Committee is calling on supporters to pack the court on Oct. 27 at 9:00 a.m. Supporters can get information on the defense campaign at www.freetarek.com
Mehanna’s supporters say he is a respected leader in his community who has done nothing other than be critical of the foreign policy of the United States, particularly as it impacts Muslim countries and the Muslim community. Because of his stature in the Muslim community, he was repeatedly pursued by the FBI to be an informant on others in the community.
When he steadfastly refused, he was arrested in 2008 and charged with making “false statements to the FBI.” Arrested again in 2009, the charge was “material support for terrorism,” with no new information about any actions on Mehanna’s part.
The sum total of actions Mehanna is charged with involve having conversations, translating books, traveling to the Middle East and posting to websites. Yet he faces life in prison if convicted. He has been denied bail twice, even though the FBI released him to the community after his first arrest and presented no information as to why or how he had since become so much more dangerous.
The entire case follows the alarming pattern of persecution of Muslims that has emerged since 9/11: the use of secret evidence; inflammatory accusations fed to the press by government prosecutors in advance of trial; manipulation of informants and cooperating witnesses through threats and rewards; and the use of “material support of terrorism” charges to criminalize dissent.
Mehanna’s case has garnered wide community support. Supporters have packed each and every hearing on the case over the last two years. On Sept. 24 at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the case was featured in a program presented by the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms. Mehanna’s brother Tamer explained the case.
Supporters are urged to call 617-748-3159 or fax 617-748- 3694, the office of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, to express outrage at this fraudulent prosecution and to demand that all charges be dropped.
Similar cases involving the FBI’s pattern of preemptive prosecution and Cointelpro-style entrapment, lying and brutal mistreatment, including “special administrative measures” and Communication Management Units, were presented by Project SALAM and family members of the victims.