Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh was deported to Jordan from Chicago because of a controversial, and decades-old record of bombings in Jerusalem. Activists gathered at the O'Hare International Airport boarding terminal to show their support for her, according to the Chicago Tribune.
"Thank you for all you did for me," she told supporters before boarding a Royal Jordanian airplane for an almost 12-hour flight to Amman.
"What happened is unjust, it's inhuman. They tried to destroy my life, but they will not destroy me," she added.
Standing in the crowd was Hatem Abudayyeh, the coordinator of Odeh's defense team. “We will liberate Palestine," she said. "We will liberate Palestine because of the Rasmea Odehs of the world."
The U.S. government argued in court that Odeh committed “immigration fraud” by omitting her 1970 conviction by an Israeli military court on her U.S. citizenship application. She insists that she was tortured by Israeli authorities to confess her alleged involvement in two bombings in Jerusalem that killed two young men at a supermarket.
Despite receiving a lifetime prison sentence, she was released as part of a prisoner swap with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1979.
In 2014, Odeh was found guilty of immigration fraud, sentenced to 18 months in prison and had her U.S citizenship revoked. A U.S. appeals court threw out that verdict in February 2015. The court ruled that the trial made the error of not allowing Odeh to call an expert witness to testify about the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from the torture and rape she suffered while detained by Israeli authorities.
Her defense team argued that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder resulting from torture and rape while detained by Israeli authorities affected her mental state when she filled out her citizenship application.
Her three-year-long U.S. legal trial came to a halt in March when she accepted a plea agreement and, the following month, pleaded guilty to concealing her conviction when she applied for U.S. citizenship in 2014, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“For 20 years, she lived here peacefully, honorably and gave more than many U.S. citizens,” said defense attorney Michael Deutsch, who stated that he has been inspired by Odeh’s “militancy,” and who also criticized prosecutors for filing charges.
Odeh, the former associate director of the Arab American Action Network for 23 years, is widely praised for her activism in favor of immigrants, especially Muslim women.