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  • Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh

    Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh | Photo: Justice 4 Rasmea

Published 28 January 2016

Rasmea Odeh, a prominent antiwar campaigner, was arrested in 2013 for allegedly lying on U.S. immigration papers 20 years earlier.

Supporters of Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh launched a social media campaign on Wednesday ahead of decision expected this week on her appeal of an 18-month prison sentence.

Odeh, 67, was put on trial in November 2014 for allegedly falsifying immigration documents 20 years ago. She had said that she had never been “charged, convicted or imprisoned for a crime,” but the prosecutor maintains that she lied as she was convicted in an Israeli military court for allegedly bombing a supermarket.

Odeh maintains her innocence, saying she confessed to the bombing under torture from Israeli soldiers – and to end the torture of her father at their hands.

The appeal to the 6th Circuit Court in Cincinnati claims that Odeh’s response was related to her Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which came from her rape and torture while in custody.

That she had been detained by the Israeli Defense Forces was common knowledge at the time she immigrated; she has been part of a high-profile prisoner exchange and testified at the United Nations regarding her detention.

Odeh’s lead attorney, Michael Deutsch, claims her trial was unfair. The original judge assigned to the case was recused after he was found to have connections to an Israeli supermarket, while the new judge accepted evidence from the Israeli military court and barred testimony concerning her PTSD and alleged torture.

After her 2014 arrest activists and friends from Chicago, where she worked for years as an attorney for immigrant women and organizer with the Arab American Action Network, quickly rallied international support.

Angela Davis, a renowned radical black activist, wrote in Detroit News, “As a person with first-hand knowledge of the devastation wrought by politically motivated prosecutions — during the era of COINTELPRO, I was falsely charged with three capital offenses — I see Rasmea Odeh's case as a continuation of the embarrassing history of decades of suppression of social justice activists in the U.S.”

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Four years before Odeh’s trial, 23 anti-war activists were forced to testify before a grand jury for allegedly providing “material support” for designated terrorist groups in Palestine and Colombia. The same prosecutor consulted with the attorney assigned to Odeh’s case the day she was arrested.

Besides spreading word about Odeh’s case on social media, supporters have held rallies in various U.S. cities and attended hearings on her appeal in Cincinnati, where the case is now being considered.

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Should her appeal be denied, Odeh’s legal team says it will consider requesting a hearing before the Supreme Court.

Odeh was originally facing five to seven years in prison. She is currently out on bail.

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