Lawyer: Palestinian community activist unfairly targeted
By Lauren Zumbach Tribune reporter
4:51 p.m. CST, November 12, 2013
Lawyers for an Evergreen Park woman facing immigration fraud charges alleged today she has been unfairly targeted in a politically motivated prosecution that is an attempt to intimidate activists opposed to U.S. and Israeli policies in the Mideast.
“The government cannot pick and choose who they prosecute based on religion, race or political beliefs,” Michael Deutsch, a member of Rasmieh Yousef Odeh’s legal team, said at a press conference at his law offices.
The 66-year-old Odeh, a longtime activist in Chicago’s Palestinian community, is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges tomorrow in federal court in Detroit.
According to Odeh’s indictment, she was convicted in Israel for her involvement in two bombings carried out on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1969. One, at a Jerusalem supermarket, killed two people and injured several others. She was sentenced to life imprisonment, but her sentence was commuted after 10 years as part of a prisoner exchange.
The indictment alleges she concealed the conviction and her time in prison when she applied for a visa in 1995 and applied for U.S. citizenship in 2004.
Deutsch argued that it was “unfair” to question her application after she was granted citizenship and added that her alleged failure to disclose her imprisonment “is not a lie if you interpret it in the proper way,” arguing that many Palestinians were unjustly imprisoned.
Hatem Abudayyeh, director of the Arab American Action Network, where he worked with Odeh, said he believes officials re-examined Odeh’s citizenship application after the FBI raided the homes of 23 activists, including Abudayyeh’s, in 2010.
“It’s overreaching to accuse her of anything but being a productive citizen,” said Abudayyeh, who is also leader of the pro-Palestine group, Committee to Stop FBI Repression.
Activists who’ve worked with Odeh gathered at the People’s Law Office for the press conference here while Odeh met with lawyers in Detroit. Abudayyeh said he expected about 100 Chicagoans to travel to her arraignment Wednesday to show support.If convicted, Odeh faces up to 10 years in prison and the loss of her citizenship, authorities have said.
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