W A S H I N G T O N, Jan. 15 — The Supreme Court has turned down a free speech appeal — in the case of a man who was fired after secretly helping the FBI investigate an anthrax threat.
Daniel Rupp initially was praised by his employer, the federal public defender in Wichita, Kan., for notifying the FBI after a man allegedly talked to him at a gun show about anthrax and his anger toward the government.
But Rupp was told to let federal agents handle the matter from there because of a potential conflict.
Rupp was fired after the public defender's office learned he had met another half-dozen times with the FBI about the case.
Lower courts upheld Rupp's firing as proper, noting he wasn't fired for reporting the threat. An appeals court said that it was not free speech to help the FBI when Rupp told his boss he would no longer do so.
—The Associated Press
Palestinian Professor Fighting Dismissal
T A M P A, Fla., Jan. 15 — A Palestinian professor said Monday he will fight the University of South Florida's decision to fire him because of alleged links to terrorists.
At a news conference attended by supporters from national Muslim and civil rights organizations, Sami Al-Arian said he intends to take his impending dismissal to binding arbitration.
"I am not the culprit here," said Al-Arian, who wrote a formal response to the school's December notice of its intent to fire him.
Al-Arian has never been charged with a crime and has denied any connection to terrorists. He once headed the World and Islam Studies Enterprises, a think tank that was based at the university until the FBI raided it in 1995 and froze its assets.
His brother-in-law, Mazen Al-Najjar, spent more than three years detained by the Immigration and Naturalization Service as a threat to national security.
USF President Judy Genshaft issued a statement Monday saying she is reviewing Al-Arian's letter, but would not say when she would make a final decision.
"This is a unique case of how one person's activities outside the scope of his employment have resulted in harm to the legitimate interests of the university," Genshaft said.
She has said she considers Al-Arian, a tenured computer science professor, a security risk whose anti-Israel views have cost the university financial support.
Genshaft moved to fire him in December, saying he did not make it clear his political views were not those of the university's and returned to campus after being told to stay away.
Al-Arian's attorney, Robert McKee, said the USF Board of Trustees is also being asked to reconsider its support for the professor's dismissal. McKee and Al-Arian criticized the board for not giving the professor an opportunity to present his side of the story.
Al-Arian, 44, has been on paid leave since a September appearance on Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor prompted a series of death threats against him. University benefactors also objected, dozens of them withdrawing their financial gifts to the university until Al-Arian was gone.
"What we are seeing is vigilantism," said Ray Busch, an attorney for the Washington-based American Muslim Council. "We are seeing people singled out."
—The Associated Press