Palestinian activist convicted of immigration fraud in Detroit


  • World
  • Tuesday, 11 Nov 2014

DETROIT (Reuters) - A Palestinian activist was found guilty on Monday of immigration fraud for failing to reveal to U.S. authorities that she had been convicted and served time in Israel for a 1969 supermarket bombing that killed two people.

After a trial last week in a federal court in Detroit, Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, 67, was convicted of unlawful procurement of naturalization, court officials said.

Odeh, who also goes by the spelling Rasmea, faces 10 years in prison and would lose her U.S. citizenship.

Judge Gershwin Drain revoked Odeh's bail after finding she was a flight risk. She was led away in handcuffs by federal marshals as dozens of supporters yelled out to her.

"Make no mistake. Rasmea came under attack by the U.S. government because she is Palestinian, and because for decades, she has organised for Palestinian liberation and self-determination," the Rasmea Defense Committee, which has supported her during the trial, said in a statement on Monday.

The defence committee said it was unfair that Drain had not allowed Odeh to tell the jury that she confessed to the supermarket bombing allegedly under torture by the Israeli military.

Defence attorney Michael Deutsch said he hopes that testimony will be heard through the appeals process, and that he plans to ask the court to reconsider the bond revocation.

The Israel Law Center, which said it helped U.S. prosecutors in the case, said Odeh received a fair trial and should receive the maximum sentence.

“During the course of the proceedings her defence changed several different times and in the end tried to politicize the case and make it like she was a victim of torture, and not that she intentionally lied on her application to deceive the U.S. government," the centre's director, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, said in a statement.

Odeh lived almost two decades in the United States and served as associate director of a Chicago-area community organisation called the Arab American Action Network.

Federal prosecutors said she failed to reveal her criminal history when she immigrated from Jordan in 1995 and again when she was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 2004.

Odeh and members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were convicted by an Israeli military court for the supermarket bombing and for placing a bomb at the British Consulate in Jerusalem.

Odeh will be sentenced on March 10.

(Reporting by Serena Maria Daniels; Writing by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Mary Wisniewski, Eric Beech and Eric Walsh)

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