On Thursday, April 12, Dr. Tarek Mehanna was sentenced in Moakley U.S. Courthouse in Boston to over 17 years in prison.
The Tarek Mehanna Support Committe called for community support in court by for a strong showing of support and solidarity.
Mehanna, a 28-year-old Muslim, Egyptian-American and a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, has been held in solitary confinement 23 hours a day since his arrest in 2009. Justice-loving people were outraged on Dec. 20 when, after a nearly two-month trial, a federal jury falsely convicted him on trumped-up “terrorism” charges. Sentencing guidelines in his case call for life imprisonment. The TMSC has been conducting a letter writing campaign to appeal for a short sentence. It has conducted a rally in support of Dr. Mehanna on the Boston Common. You can learn more about the case and get involved by visiting FreeTarek.com.
Mehanna’s supporters say he is a respected leader in his community who has done nothing besides criticize U.S. foreign policy, particularly as it affects Muslims here and abroad. Because of his stature in the Muslim community, the FBI repeatedly pursued him to be an informant on others in his community.
When he steadfastly refused, he was arrested in 2008 and charged with making “false statements to the FBI.” When Mehanna was arrested again in 2009, the charge was “material support for terrorism.” There was no new information about any actions on his part to back up these charges.
As reported on FreeTarek.com, for a two-year period before his arrest, Mehanna was “befriended” by an unknown individual who continually tried to urge him to “take action” against U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq, which Mehanna continually refused to do, rebuffing and cutting off contact with the man.
An Associated Press reporter came forward with the information that the New York Police Department had sent an undercover agent to Boston to “befriend” Mehanna and get him to agree to a terrorist act, and that Dr. Mehanna had refused. The same NYPD sources also told the reporter that the NYPD had come to Boston and met with the prosecutors in Mehanna’s case.
But the defense motion for all information about this — required under law as exculpatory evidence — was denied after a private session in the judge’s chamber between the prosecutors and the judge.
Prosecutorial distortions lead
to unjust conviction
Dr. Mehanna’s trial began on Oct. 24. Throughout the trial, support for him was strong every day. The main courtroom was filled. Often, one or two other courtrooms were needed to accommodate supporters. During the entire six weeks of prosecution testimony, no evidence was presented of Mehanna committing any violent or criminal act.
In contrast, the six FBI informants who testified against Mehanna had committed such acts but were given prosecutorial immunity in exchange for their testimony. The prosecution spent six weeks showing videos and chats, taken out of context, from Mehanna’s computer, distorting their meaning and deliberately prejudicing the jury.
The incessant propaganda and anti-Muslim prejudice fed to the U.S. public influenced the jury to find Mehanna guilty on all seven counts.
Supporters, who were present throughout the proceedings and who packed the court for the closing arguments, vowed to support Mehanna’s appeals and to mount a campaign to stop the government’s goal of railroading him to life in prison.
This case follows the alarming pattern of persecution of Muslims that has emerged since 9/11: the secret evidence; inflammatory pre-trial accusations fed to the press by government prosecutors; manipulation of informants and cooperating witnesses through threats and rewards; and the use of “material support of terrorism” charges to criminalize dissent. Cointelpro-style tactics of prosecutorial misconduct have produced many unjust convictions.