The US Government is Targeting Nonviolent Activists

Ali Abunimah

Rasmea Odeh had her first hearing in open court on Thursday in front of the new judge who will preside over her trial on immigration fraud charges scheduled for next month.

As the Palestinian-American community leader and her lawyers sat at the defense table, supporters, many of whom had made the five-hour drive from Chicago, packed the Detroit federal courtroom.

Odeh had hoped that Judge Gershwin Drain would rule favorably on a defense motion to dismiss the charges against her, but the judge declined to do so, ensuring that the trial will go forward.

Illegal fruit

Michael Deutsch, Odeh’s lead attorney, argued that the indictment of Odeh was the “fruit of an illegal investigation” by the government targeting the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), the Chicago community organization at which Odeh is associate director.

Last October, Odeh was arrested and indicted for allegedly lying on her US citizenship application a decade ago by failing to disclose her conviction in an Israeli military court for allegedly participating in two bombings in Jerusalem in 1969.

Odeh has pleaded not guilty to the US immigration fraud charge and says the Israeli convictions were obtained in the unfair Israeli military court system based entirely on a confession extracted through prolonged, brutal torture including sexual assault.

If convicted Odeh could face prison time, as well as being stripped of her US citizenship and deported.

Deutsch told the judge that Odeh was selectively investigated because of her protected First Amendment activities educating people about the situation in Palestine, and that it was based on evidence from the four-year-old investigation of the “Anti-War 23.”

In 2010, US authorities raided the homes of several anti-war activists, including Hatem Abudayyeh, AAAN’s director, and summoned two dozen activists before a federal grand jury.

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