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Minneapolis: Noor Elashi, daughter of Holy Land 5 defendant, and Holy Land lawyer speak out

By Tracy Molm

Noor Elashi speaking at University of Minnesota.

Minneapolis, MN – On April 15, Noor Elashi, daughter of wrongfully imprisoned Holy Land 5 defendant Ghassan Elashi, spoke to a packed room of over 50 people, mostly students from the University of Minnesota, about her father’s case. John Cline, Ghassan Elashi’s lawyer, also spoke of the injustice brought upon the five men who founded and built the largest Muslim charity in the U.S. George W. Bush shut down The Holy Land Foundation, falsely claiming its charity work for Palestine had ties to terrorism.

Elashi spoke passionately about the enduring spirit of her father despite being sentenced to 65 years. He is now in a Communications Management Unit prison in southern Illinois. “He’s told me that when he’s exonerated he will carry a sign saying ‘Free Palestine’ as he leaves prison,” Elashi said.

John Cline talked about the legal aspects of the case. Despite the government presenting many pieces of ‘evidence’ meant to scare the jury, the first trial of the Holy Land 5 resulted in a hung jury. All (but one) of the jurors thought the government had a faulty case. But the government’s Barry Jonas, and the other prosecutors, decided to try the men again. At the second trial, they used additional ‘evidence’ to guarantee a guilty verdict, including unverifiable evidence put forward by a witness testifying under anonymity and wild claims by so-called experts threatening a second 9-11-style attack.

A Federal Appeals court later found that it was a mistake to admit the new evidence but allowed the verdicts to stand.

Mick Kelly, of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, ended the program by connecting the injustice brought against the Holy Land defendants to the attacks on those who speak out for justice, like himself and the other 22 anti-war and international solidarity activists who were subpoenaed and raided two and half years ago.

At this point, the legal remedies for the Holy Land 5 have been exhausted. But Elashi, Cline and Kelly made it clear that we should continue to speak out against the injustice of the Holy Land 5 case and speak against government repression like the ongoing case of the Anti-war 23.

This event was part of several events in Minneapolis, including one the previous night with local peace and justice activists. The event on April 15 was sponsored by Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Minnesota, Students for Justice in Palestine, and the Women's Student Activist Collective.

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