Activist Rasmieh Odeh sentenced for immigration lies

Odeh’s case has drawn national attention from both anti-Israel and pro-Israel supporters. Some anti-war activists opposed her prosecution, saying she became the victim of an unjust targeting by authorities against activists who oppose U.S. foreign policies.

Ending a case that has drawn national attention from both anti-Israel and pro-Israel supporters, Palestinian activist Rasmieh Odeh was sentenced today in a Detroit courtroom to 18 months for immigration fraud tied to her alleged role in bombings in Israel in 1969 that killed civilians.
U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain handed down the sentence today in a packed courtroom, calling her a liar and a terrorist. He said the sentence was right in the middle of of the recommended 15 to 21 months for her crime of not disclosing on her immigration and citizenship forms if she had ever been arrested or convicted in a crime.

“You lied under oath,” Drain said.

“She was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. I think she was involved in some terrorist activity.”

Additionally, Drain revoked Odeh’s American citizenship; she will be deported at the conclusion of her sentence.

Odeh’s attorney, Michael Deutcsch, told the Free Press after the sentencing that he will appeal.

“It was excessive,” Deutsch said. “She’s not a terrorist. She was fighting for freedom” against what he called a “brutal occupation that continues today.”

There was a heavy police presence outside the courtroom, with two officers on horseback patrolling around the court in downtown Detroit.

Drain said that Odeh has reformed herself and has helped Arab immigrant women, but added that she lied and also ignored court orders during the trial.

Odeh, 67, a former resident of Jackson, was found guilty last year by a jury in U.S. District Court in Detroit of not declaring on her immigration and citizenship forms that she had been convicted in an Israeli military court in the 1969 terror attack at a supermarket in Jerusalem. She answered “No” when asked on immigration forms if she had been previously convicted of a crime.

Her sentencing today was expected to draw many supporters from Chicago, where she is associate director of the Arab American Action Network in Chicago, which is a member of the Dearborn-based National Network for Arab American Communities, a project of ACCESS, a social services group in Dearborn. Some local Arab-American leaders have expressed their support for Odeh, asking the judge for leniency in today’s sentencing.

Last night, a rally and legal fund-raiser was held for Odeh at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn.

Today, hundreds rallied before the 11 a.m. sentencing by Judge Drain and attended her sentencing hearing.

Prosecutors asked for a tough sentence of five to seven years — well above the recommended guidelines of 12-21 months for her crime — to send a strong message that terrorists can’t lie about their past in order to gain entrance into the U.S.

They cited concern about fighters with ISIS or similar groups trying to enter the U.S., saying she was a member of the Marxist Palestinian group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization according to the U.S. State Department.

In their sentencing memo, prosecutors said that the “the civilized world currently is struggling with the issue of ‘foreign fighters’ who go to Syria, Iraq and other places for terrorist training and then fight on behalf of ISIS and other designated terrorist organizations, and who often then return home.”

Odeh’s case has drawn national attention from both anti-Israel and pro-Israel supporters. Some anti-war activists opposed her prosecution, saying she became the victim of an unjust targeting by authorities against activists who oppose U.S. foreign policies.

 Her supporters and attorneys maintain her 1969 conviction was based on a confession she made after being tortured by her Israeli captors.

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