Rasmea Odeh will be deported but serve no time under plea deal

Rasmea Odeh

Ali Abunimah

Rasmea Odeh has accepted a plea agreement, bringing to a close her more than three-year legal battle with the US government.

Odeh, 69, who was scheduled to have a new trial in May over charges related to immigration fraud, will now lose her US citizenship and be deported.

But as part of the agreement she will not spend any time in prison or detention by US immigration authorities, according to a statement from her defense team on Thursday.

The Rasmea Defense Committee said the decision to accept the plea deal was difficult, but are calling it a “victory” in light of the government’s attempts to sentence Odeh to up to seven years in prison.

The defense committee said the decision to accept a plea was based on the belief that under the “current, racist political climate” Odeh’s “prospects for a fair trial are slimmer than ever.” US prosecutors have sought to frame her new trial around her alleged involvement in “terrorism” over four decades ago.

“Rasmea’s choice today was not easy, but nothing in this journey has been, and our support continues to be critical,” the defense committee said. It added that supporters would be called on to travel to Detroit when a date is set for her to enter her plea in court, as they have for every hearing since her case began.

In November 2014, Odeh was found guilty of immigration fraud for failing to declare on her immigration and citizenship applications her conviction in an Israeli military court in 1969.

She was sentenced to 18 months in prison, revocation of her US citizenship and deportation.

In February 2015, a US appeals court threw out the verdict, ruling the trial court had erred by not allowing Odeh to call an expert witness to testify about the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the torture and rape she suffered in Israeli custody.

Odeh’s defense attorneys argued that the PTSD affected her mental state when she filled out her citizenship application in 2004.

As a result she was granted a new trial that would include expert testimony on her PTSD.

In an apparent attempt to circumvent that defense, however, the government recently filed new charges against Odeh that focused on her involvement in what the US labels a “terrorist organization” – the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

“Through a massive, organized defense campaign, Rasmea Odeh – a long-time icon of the Palestine liberation movement – is now a name known in every corner of the movement for social justice in the US,” the defense committee said.

“She exposed Israel for what it is – a racist occupier and colonizer – and put its policy of torture and sexual assault on the permanent record in a US court of law.”

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This is sad but not unexpected news. Rasmea Odeh and her defense team did everything possible to obtain a deserved acquittal, but the deck was heavily stacked against her. And in the present vile environment, her chances were reduced to nil. This rotten case should never have been brought, and its repercussions will be felt widely for years to come. The government is determined to disenfranchise millions, and to reconstitute America as a truly dystopic corporate state.

Please let us know where Rasmea is to be sent. I sincerely hope it's not Israel or the Occupied Territories.

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Charlotte Silver

Charlotte Silver's picture

Charlotte Silver is an independent journalist and regular writer for The Electronic Intifada. She is based in Oakland, California and has reported from Palestine since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @CharESilver.