Monday, November 05, 2007

LA 8: First Communists, then Terrorists, Free at last!


"My family and I feel a tremendous amount of relief today," said Hamide. "After 20
years, the nightmare is finally over. I feel vindicated at long last. This is a victory not only for us, but for the First Amendment of the Constitution and for the rights of all immigrants."

Shehadeh agreed.

"I am extremely happy but do have mixed emotions," Shehadeh added. "The
government was wrong for twenty one years. They robbed us, and our families, of the best and most productive years of our lives. We are now free to continue living our lives, acting on our beliefs; raising our families, supporting our communities, loving our country, defending justice and the Constitution, and prospering as good citizens."

The case against the pair began in January, 1987, when the government arrested them and six others, who collectively came to be known as the LA 8, placed them in maximum security prison, and accused them of having ties to a faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The government alleged that Hamide and Shehadeh distributed newspapers, held demonstrations and organized humanitarian aid fundraisers for Palestinians, and that because these actions supported the PLO faction, they should be deported. The men were initially charged with being associated with a Communist organization, but when a court declared those charges unconstitutional, the government filed new charges of material support for a terrorist group. The case went before the US Court of Appeals four times, the Supreme Court once, and the Board of Immigration Appeals multiple times.
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