Court Affirms Former Professor's Contempt Citation

A federal appeals court has affirmed a civil contempt ruling against a former professor who refused to testify in front of a federal grand jury investigating Islamic charities in northern Virginia. Sami al-Arian also ended his two-month hunger strike yesterday in a North Carolina Federal prison. He says a plea agreement exempts him from testifying before the grand jury. Prosecutors accused al-Arian of being a leader of a terrorist group called Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The two sides struck a plea deal last year and al-Arian was sentenced to nearly five years in prison for conspiring to aid Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Al-Arian began a hunger strike January 22nd to protest the subpoena and the contempt citation. His wife says he lost more than 50 pounds before deciding today to end the hunger strike. The federal appeals court says it found no merit in al-Arian's claim that he does not have to testify. The court said the cooperation agreement was discussed but never a part of the plea.