13 October 2015
For Immediate Release: Rasmea Defense Committee
Press Contact: Hatem Abudayyeh, National Spokesperson, 773-301-4108, [email protected]
Rasmea Odeh’s attorneys to make oral arguments in Cincinnati in appeal of conviction of prominent Palestinian-American activist
Defense attorney Michael Deutsch will argue that Odeh did not get a full and fair trial, with hundreds of her supporters traveling to Cincinnati to fill the courtroom and stand vigil outside
WHEN: Wednesday, October 14th, 2015, at 8 AM Eastern Standard Time for support rally and Rasmea Defense Committee press availability. Appeal begins at 9 AM EST. Press conference with defense attorneys after court.
WHERE: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, 540 Potter Stewart U.S. Courthouse, 100 E. 5th Street, in Cincinnati, OH
On Wednesday, October 14th, 2015, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, three appellate judges will hear oral arguments in the case of Rasmea Odeh, the prominent Palestinian-American activist from Chicago who was convicted last November in what supporters called a “travesty of justice.” Odeh was found guilty of a single count of Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization, and in March of this year, sentenced to 18 months in prison and deportation from the U.S. Organizers with the Rasmea Defense Committee are mobilizing supporters from Chicago, across the Midwest, and as far away as Florida and Georgia—to pack the appellate courtroom and stand vigil outside. Odeh’s colleagues, friends, family, and supporters made numerous and similar trips to Detroit for pre-trial hearings, the trial, and the sentencing since her arrest in 2013.
“There is no doubt that Rasmea is innocent, and we are confident that she will be exonerated,” says Jess Sundin of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR), which along with the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), anchors the defense committee. “There is also no doubt that we are bringing hundreds of people from all across the Midwest to stand with her. She is beloved across the country and world.”
The Department of Homeland Security arrested Odeh on October 22, 2013, and charged her for allegedly failing to disclose, in her 2004 application for U.S. citizenship, that she was arrested in Palestine in 1969 and tried in an Israeli military court that convicts 99.74% of Palestinians who come before it. Odeh’s conviction in Palestine in 1970 was based on a confession that was forced in the wake of vicious physical and sexual torture by the Israelis.
Lead defense attorneys Michael Deutsch and Jim Fennerty contend that Odeh suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of this torture, which caused her to suppress the horrible recollection of the arrest when she filled out her naturalization application in 2004. They tried to argue this in the trial, but Judge Gershwin Drain disallowed any testimony about the rape and torture. The defense committee wrote in late July 2015 that the “defense argues conclusively that the government ‘never really addresses the basic constitutional deprivations asserted in Ms. Odeh’s opening appellate brief,’ and that Rasmea is ‘entitled to present her complete defense to the jury,’ which can only happen in a new trial.”
After the oral arguments are heard by the three appellate judges on October 14, a decision will be made between two and six months later.
Deutsch added, “We believe that if justice is to prevail, Rasmea must be awarded a new trial. She was denied her fundamental, constitutional right to present her defense.” Deutsch, Frank Chapman of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, CSFR’s Sundin, and Brian Taylor of Black Lives Matter Cincinnati will be amongst those speaking in a press conference after the court proceedings.
“So many diverse organizations and voices have stood up in defense of Rasmea,” says Nesreen Hasan of USPCN, “including Black Lives Matter forces all across the country. BLM Cincinnati is our main partner on the ground in Ohio, and the legendary Angela Davis has publicly come out strongly on her behalf. All of these do it because they know this was a politically motivated conviction, and that Rasmea is under attack only because she’s Palestinian and organizes for Palestinian rights.”