A rally for the Holy Land Five in New York City, October 25, 2012.
The Supreme Court has denied the Holy Land Five appeal and will not be issuing a decision in the case. This almost definitely marks the end of the legal appeal process.
The Holy Land Five — Shukri Abu Baker, Mohammad el-Mazain, Ghassan Elashi, Mufid Abdulqader, Abulrahman Odeh — were convicted of providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza through zakat committees allegedly connected with Hamas. The case relied on “secret evidence” from an anonymous Israeli intelligence source. Four of the five defendants are now serving sentences in a Communication Management Unit, or CMU, an “experimental” detention facility outside of oversight from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, where two-thirds of the inmates are Arab and/or Muslim. Detainees in these facilities are subject to arbitrary policies that restrict their movement within prison cells, and minimal contact with the families and attorneys.
Nida Abubaker, the daughter of Holy Land Five member Shukri Abubaker, announced the decision over Twitter:
The supreme court denied the case. They dont even want to look at it. They dont want to spill the truth& efda7 the US Govt bc of their lies
— Nida Guerzoni Baker (@SuperNida) October 29, 2012
She added on her blog:
That’s it. They denied it… So what now? Are these men going to sit in prison, for something they didn’t do, while the world all over the poor is getting even poorer? While the hungry is dying of starvation? While the sick is dying without medicine and blood? While the homeless is in desperate need of a home during The harsh winters? This is outrageous. I am at loss of words… God has a plan for everything and everyone. We must not give up. #FreeTheHolyLandFoundation #FreeMyBaba #FreeMyUncles
Mondoweiss talked to Holy Land Five attorney Nancy Hollander who explained this will most likely end the legal fight in the case, “Technically they can file a petition for writ of habeas corpus, but they would have to go back to original court and I don’t think they will be successful. I fear this is the end of the road and far as the courts are concerned.” Hollander added:
This is travesty of American criminal justice. I don’t think American citizens understand that this effects all of us and the world that believes in the American criminal justice system. Anyone in any court in America now risks being convicted based on the opinion of someone who claims to be an expert without any opportunity to cross examine that person because everything about that so-called expert can remain secret. The right to Confrontation, so long enshrined in our justice system, died today.
Attorney Linda Moreno, who also worked on the case, told Mondoweiss:
We fought so hard for this case we believed in these men and we believed in the charity, their good will, their good works. I have always said they fed the wrong children. They were Palestinian children and for some reason Palestinian children, Palestinian widows do not deserve humanitarian aid.
And I will tell you this, I don’t care what the government believes it has proved in this case, a decision that allows a man to be sentenced to 65 years in prison for feeding Palestinian children in my view is racist.
As Joe Catron wrote earlier today on Mondoweiss, even if the court denied the appeal, this doesn’t mean work in solidarity with the Holy Land Five is over. On the contrary, it is time to redouble our efforts:
The imprisonment of the Holy Land Five is a conscious act of imperial repression against Palestine no less than those of Khader Adnan, Hana Shalabi, Mahmoud Sarsak, or Hassan Safadi, returning today to his family in Nablus. Like their freedom, the HLF prisoners’ may boil down to a question not of laws, but of solidarity, mobilization, and power.