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Judge denies motion to dismiss trumped up charges against Rasmea Odeh

By staff

Detroit courtroom packed

Fight Back News Service is circulating the following Oct. 2 statement from the Rasmea Defense Committee

As Rasmea Odeh sat surrounded by her lawyers in a Detroit federal court, listening to an Arabic language interpreter, her supporters filled the courtroom for a short status hearing on the politically-motivated case alleging that she answered questions untruthfully on her citizenship application 10 years ago. The courtroom filled to capacity, while some 30 supporters were left waiting outside to learn the outcome of today’s hearing.

Judge Gershwin Drain inexplicably allowed only 10 minutes for Michael Deutsch, Rasmea’s lead attorney, to argue each of two motions. Deutsch first argued that her arrest was based on illegal evidence obtained in the 4-year old investigation of the Anti-War 23, which he said was a violation of constitutional and First Amendment rights. No arrests or indictments in the case of the 23 have been made, but the witch hunt continues, and Deutsch told the judge that Rasmea should not have gotten caught up in it. In the motion to dismiss, Deutsch asked for discovery to see communications between U.S. Attorneys in Chicago and Detroit, to establish that the investigation of the 23 anti-war and Palestine activists was the origin of Rasmea’s prosecution today. Drain denied the motion to dismiss without explanation.

The second argument from the defense stated that a torture expert and clinical psychologist, Mary Fabri, from the world-renowned Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture in Chicago, should be allowed to testify about the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) suffered by Rasmea, who had faced vicious physical and sexual torture at the hands of Israeli prison authorities. The government argues that she neglected to disclose her 1969 arrest and conviction by an Israeli military court, but Rasmea has always publicly stated that the conviction was based on a false confession forced by the torture. Deutsch contended that “she [Rasmea] blocked out the past trauma,” and that is why she answered as she did on the immigration application.

“This is at the heart of our defense,” Deutsch continued. Responding to Judge Drain’s questions about what evidence the expert would provide, Deutsch explained the jury needs to consider how Rasmea’s response to questions on her immigration application forms could be affected by her PTSD. “The expert should be allowed to testify, and the jury should decide what it means.” Drain didn’t make a ruling in open court, instead saying he will provide a written opinion within a week.

Deutsch spoke to supporters outside the courthouse, saying, “It is extremely important that you continue to come out to all of these appearances.” In addition, Sarah Martin, one of the Anti-War 23 who had travelled from Minnesota, spoke of the solidarity rallies organized for Rasmea in numerous cities across the country. “People in San Jose, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee are out in the streets voicing their support like we are doing here.” These protests, along with thousands of calls to prosecutors, are part of a growing national movement dedicated to winning justice for Rasmea.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)-National joined this chorus of voices today with a strong public statement and a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, demanding that the charges against Rasmea be dropped.

Muhammad Sankari, a member of the national Rasmea Defense Committee, said, “We obviously believe that justice was not served today. Too many of our leaders, like Rasmea, are being targeted by the Justice Department for their activism in support of Palestinian liberation. This case is clearly going to be an indictment of Israel and its brutal policies. We will continue to make that argument as we work to get the charges dropped.”

Rasmea supporters are mobilizing for the next status hearing, which is scheduled for Tuesday, October 21st, at 11 AM, again in Detroit.

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