Palestinian survivor of Israeli torture denied new trial by US judge

Rasmea Defense Committee

Rasmea Odeh

Rasmea Odeh

Chicago’s 67-year-old Palestinian community leader, Rasmea Odeh, is set to appear in a Detroit federal court for sentencing on March 12, following her conviction on a single charge of Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization. Three days ago, Judge Gershwin Drain issued an order denying two motions by Odeh’s defense team. One motion called for a new trial because of a number of legal errors in the court’s rulings in her November trial; another called for the judge to set aside the jury’s decision altogether.

“Since both defense motions challenged how Drain conducted the trial, it came as no surprise when he ruled against Rasmea, and in support of his own decisions,” said Hatem Abudayyeh of the Rasmea Defense Committee. “We know that the conviction was a travesty of justice, and that Judge Drain’s rulings made it impossible for the jury to give Rasmea a fair shake. She survived brutal torture by the Israelis, but the jury never got to hear that.”

Odeh’s attorneys are asking Drain to take her age and poor health into consideration and be lenient in his sentencing, but also plan to appeal her conviction, so will request the granting of an appeal bond no matter the sentence, which could be up to 10 years in prison, heavy fines, and deportation.

Unfazed by this latest ruling, the defense committee is redoubling efforts to win justice. Communities across the country are organizing protests, fundraisers, and several events with Rasmea speaking via live stream. A national week of action mobilized hundreds of supporters, with further actions planned for the coming week in at least 7 more cities.

“We will not give up in our defense and support of Rasmea as she moves forward to challenge this unjust conviction. She was prosecuted by the U.S. government because she is Palestinian, and because for decades, she has organized for Palestinian liberation and self-determination,” said Jess Sundin of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. “We are already making transportation and housing plans to ensure that we fill Judge Drain’s court room in Detroit on March 12, and hopefully an overflow room as well. Hundreds stood with Rasmea during her trial, and we’re prepared to stand with her again and again until justice is won.”

For more information and background on Rasmea Odeh’s case, go here.

The national Rasmea Defense Committee is led by United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN),Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR), and Coalition to Protect People’s Rights (CPPR); and includes 8th Day Center for Justice, Al-Awda NY: the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)-Chicago, ADC National, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), ANSWER Coalition, Anti-War Committee (AWC)-Chicago, AWC-Minneapolis, Arab Jewish Partnership for Peace and Justice in the Middle East, Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Chicago Light Brigade, Committee Against Political Repression, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-Chicago, CAIR-Michigan, Friends of Sabeel-North America, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, International League of Peoples’ Struggle-U.S.,Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), Korean American Resource and Cultural Center (KRCC), Latino Organization of the Southwest (LOS), Lifta Society, Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice (MECAWI), Middle East Crisis Committee (CT), Milwaukee Palestine Solidarity Coalition, National Boricua Human Rights Network, National Lawyers Guild (NLG), National Students for Justice in Palestine, Palestine Solidarity Group-Chicago, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, Palestinian Youth Movement-USA Branch, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network,St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, United African Organization, United National Antiwar Coalition, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Voces de la Frontera, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), and Z Collective.