Rasmea Odeh forced to accept plea agreement

By Ava Lipatti
April 1, 2017

Palestinian-American activist Rasmea Odeh has been fighting the courts for three and a half years. Her battle against U.S. state repression is coming to a close.

As a college student, Rasmea Odeh was “convicted” by an Israeli military court for alleged involvement in bombings in 1969. Odeh’s conviction was due to a false confession she was forced to make after being subjected to 25 days of physical, psychological and sexual torture at the hands of Israeli military officers. The Israeli tribunal prosecutors and judges are military officers rather than civilians, whose conviction rate for Palestinians is 99 percent. Odeh spent 10 years in an Israeli prison.

After migrating to the United States, Odeh became involved in the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim communities in Chicago. However, in 2013 she was arrested by Department of Homeland Security officials because she did not disclose the 1969 conviction on her immigration documents.

Throughout Odeh’s legal battle, the conviction was included as evidence, yet the use of torture and Odeh’s subsequent development of post-traumatic stress disorder were not allowed. However, the movement led by Odeh and her defense team was able to force a retrial. For that, indictments of “terrorist activity” were added to the original terms, increasing the severity of the case.

Given these new indictments and that white-supremacist Jeff Sessions is now U.S. attorney general, the prospects for a fair trial are unlikely. Facing 18 months or more of imprisonment, and potentially indefinite detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Odeh has decided to accept a plea deal. She will plead guilty to “unlawful procurement of naturalization.” Although she will not have to serve any more time in ICE detention, she will lose her U.S. citizenship and be forced to leave the country.

A date will soon be set for a hearing with Judge Gershwin Drain to consider the plea bargain agreement.

Although Odeh’s case is now coming to a close, she leaves a legacy as a Palestinian freedom fighter and Chicago activist. She has become a symbol of resistance, between her support of the Black Lives Matter movement and her call for a global strike on International Working Women’s Day.

Odeh’s case exposes the oppression and corruption of both the U.S. and Israeli governments. As countries built on stolen land, both U.S. and Israeli settler-colonialism must continue to be fought on all fronts.

Free, free Palestine! Hands Off Rasmea Odeh!