Former Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel was caught on tape last week telling a crowd in Washington, D.C., that they should harass a federal prosecutor who helped bring criminal contempt charges against a Palestinian activist.
In the tape, Gravel can be heard telling people to pressure Gordon Kromberg, an assistant U.S. attorney in the eastern district of Virginia, to drop the charges against Sami Al-Arian.
“Find out where he lives, find out where his kids go to school, find out where his office is, picket him all the time,” Gravel said, in an audio tape obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism and provided to FOX News.
“Call him a racist in signs if you see him. Call him an injustice. Call him whatever you want to call him, but in his face all the time.”
Al-Arian is a former Florida professor who in 2006 pleaded guilty to providing goods and services to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Prosecutors had tried him on more serious charges, but that ended in a hung jury, so Al-Arian took a plea.
He later was charged with contempt for refusing to testify before a grand jury in Virginia.
Gravel told FOX News that he doesn’t want people to break the law and that he personally wouldn’t do the things he’s recommended “” but that it could be an effective way to change the behavior of U.S. officials.
“The question is whether he crossed the line in saying “˜find out where his kids go to school,– said counter-terrorism expert Steve Emerson. “That to my mind and to government officials including those in the FBI crosses the line into a direct veiled threat.”
He said the evidence at the Al-Arian trial “overwhelming showed and incontrovertibly demonstrated that he was head of the Islamic Jihad network in the United States.”
Kromberg’s boss, U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg, wouldn’t comment on Gravel’s statement, but he lauded Kromberg’s record in a statement.
“Gordon Kromberg is a dedicated, talented and scrupulously fair prosecutor. Further, when we decide to prosecute an individual, that decision is based strictly on the facts and the law, and in the pursuit of justice, period,” he said.
Al-Arian is still sitting in a Virginia jail. He’s also been ordered deported, but the United States still is searching for a country that will take him.