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Palestinian-American activist found guilty in US immigration case

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Palestinian-American activist found guilty in US immigration case

Rasmieh Yousef Odeh found guilty of fraud for failing to disclose Israel conviction, but she says 'I didn't lie'

November 10, 2014 4:26PM ET

A Palestinian-American activist was found guilty of immigration fraud Monday for failing to reveal to U.S. authorities that she had been convicted and served jail time in Israel for a 1969 supermarket bombing that killed two people. The criminal case against her angered Palestine-solidarity activists who accuse the U.S. government of trying to silence critics of Israel.

After her trial last week at a federal court in Detroit, Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, 67, was convicted of unlawful procurement of naturalization, said Ron Hansen, a spokesman for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Odeh served 10 years before being released in a prisoner swap with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Odeh, an associate director of Chicago's Arab American Action Network, is widely respected in Chicago for her work with immigrants, especially Arab women.

Odeh, who also goes by the spelling Rasmea for her first name, had said Israeli authorities tortured and raped her to get a confession. But U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain barred reference to that at trial. He said what happened in Israel was not relevant to whether she lied on the citizenship form.

"I think your verdict is a fair and reasonable one based on the evidence that came in," Drain told the jury after the verdict was announced.

Defense attorney Michael Deutsch said he was upset that jurors spoke to government lawyers for a half-hour after the verdict but declined to meet with defense attorneys. He also was displeased that the judge took the "very unusual" step of complimenting the jurors on their verdict.

"That was a window into the judge's thinking about this trial," he said. "We feel we have some very strong issues for appeal, and we hope somebody will listen to us."

"Make no mistake. Rasmea came under attack by the U.S. government because she is Palestinian, and because for decades, she has organized for Palestinian liberation and self-determination," the Rasmea Defense Committee, which has supported her during the trial, said in a statement on Monday.

Dozens of supporters traveled from Chicago to watch the trial, either in the courtroom or in a separate courtroom that carried a video feed. Many also gathered outside the downtown courthouse and chanted slogans, carried signs and held Palestinian flags.

Odeh is currently free on bail, but faces up to 10 years in a U.S. prison and loss of her U.S. citizenship. The judge will hold a bail-revocation hearing before setting a date for sentencing for Odeh.

Outside the courtroom, Odeh addressed supporters, many in tears, and told them to be "strong." As she spoke, they cheered and chanted her name, and responded with "naam," the Arabic word for "yes."

"I didn't lie," she told The Associated Press, adding, "I felt the verdict is not justice. ... The government did not allow us to defend ourselves."


We just released a bucket load of illegal criminals, even for rape, the other day but we are about to jail someone's grandma for what she did in 1969?

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