For immediate release:
December 10, 2014
212-679-5100, ext. 15
DETROIT — Rasmea Odeh, the prominent 67-year-old Palestinian American community leader and former political prisoner, will be released on $50,000 cash bond pending sentencing in March 2015. Ms. Odeh was found guilty this past November 10 of “Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization” – a past conviction on Israeli charges to which she confessed more than 40 years ago, after 45 days of brutal torture and rape by the Israeli military while in Israeli custody.
The Court credited Ms. Odeh’s pretrial testimony about the abuse she had endured in Israeli prisons, but remanded her to custody after trial, as a”flight risk.” Odeh’s defense team of four National Lawyers Guild (NLG) attorneys filed a motion requesting reconsideration, and the NLG filed an amicus brief supporting that motion, with endorsements by Jewish Voice for Peace, Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, National Students for Justice in Palestine, and American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Upon posting bond, Odeh will return to Chicago and continue her social work until sentencing.
Odeh’s defense team consists of longtime NLG members Michael Deutsch, Jim Fennerty, Dennis Cunningham, and William Goodman. As amicus curiae, the NLG argued that it would be unfair to rely on Ms. Odeh’s attempt to flee the Israeli prison in light of the brutal treatment she had endured there, to adjudge her as a “flight risk.” The NLG also argued that Ms. Odeh had an exemplary record as an outstanding and beloved public servant for the 20 years she lived in this country and had risked conviction and incarceration to reject a plea offer that would have required her to leave her work in Chicago helping to empower Arab women immigrants, demonstrating her commitment to remain in this country.
Attorney Barbara Harvey who filed the amicus on behalf of the NLG, added, “No court in the US could lawfully rely on a confession wrung from a defendant by rape and other brutal forms of torture. And yet Ms. Odeh now faces imprisonment and then deportation for failing to ‘confess’ her conviction on such tainted evidence. Society is not well served by removing from its midst a long-term and beloved public servant on such heartless grounds.”
Despite her traumatic past, it was recently learned that Odeh had been arbitrarily held in solitary confinement, without explanation, for more than 12 days while in custody at the St. Clair County Jail in Port Huron, Michigan. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison and immediate deportation upon release. The Odeh case is part of the US government’s crackdown on Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim solidarity activism.
The Rasmea Defense Committee is currently raising funds for the $50,000 cash bond required for her release. To contribute, visit stopfbi.net/donate.
The National Lawyers Guild was formed in 1937 as the nation’s first racially integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.