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For Immediate Release: Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
Contact: Hatem Abudayyeh, National Spokesperson, Rasmea Defense Committee, 773.301.4108, firstname.lastname@example.org
Supporters mobilize for March 12 sentencing in Detroit
Today, defense attorneys for Rasmea Odeh, Chicago’s 67-year-old Palestinian community leader, filed a “sentencing memorandum” in a Detroit federal court, arguing that Odeh “should not be sentenced to further imprisonment” following her conviction in November 2014 on a single charge of Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization. Included in the memorandum were “over 70 letters from religious leaders, university professors, human rights attorneys, community activists and people who have worked with her, attesting to her extraordinary and original work with Arab immigrant women.”
Maysoon Gharbieh, a member of the 600-strong Arab Women’s Committee that Rasmea built in Chicago, wrote, “Rasmea is a valuable and lovely icon for us and for the entire community. She works without reward or personal profit. All she cares about is supporting and protecting us and our families. Her ultimate goal is to help develop families that are educated, active and effective in contributing to keeping the community and the country safe for all who live here.”
In support of Odeh, Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton of Detroit wrote, “I am asking for compassion in her sentencing. Rasmea has much to offer her community…keeping her out of prison would allow her to continue as a contributing and productive person, doing the work that is so critical to hundreds of refugee women.”
Odeh’s attorneys are asking Judge Gershwin Drain to take her age, poor health, chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and “exemplary history in the United States” into consideration when deciding on her sentence, adding that “there is no reasonable justification for sending Ms. Odeh to federal prison.”
Despite the fact that 98% of all sentences for this offense are at or below sentencing guidelines, the prosecution has called for a heavier, enhanced one of 5 to 7 years, based on allegations that Odeh obstructed justice in her trial and on this ridiculous comparison: “A light sentence in this case would be a signal to anyone who has fought overseas for ISIS or a similar organization that there is not much risk in coming to the United States, hiding one’s past, and seeking citizenship.”
Odeh’s attorneys challenge this linkage, writing, “The Government, for its part, insists that the defendant be branded a terrorist, and sentenced accordingly, based on a conviction for bombings obtained in an illegitimate military trial, conducted by war criminals, 45 years ago. Their position is that only the bombing matters: Not the illegal 1967 massacres and occupation – let alone the military ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians from the land and their homes when Palestine was partitioned in 1948 – not the midnight sweeps and kidnapping by the invading Army after the 1967 war, not the torture, not the kangaroo court and false confessions, not the prison time.”
Odeh plans to appeal her conviction, and will request the granting of an appellate bond no matter the sentence, which could be the prison time, heavy fines, and deportation.
“Hundreds of people will be in Detroit for the sentencing hearing on March 12th,” says Tampa’s Marisol Marquez of the national Rasmea Defense Committee, “and there have been, and will continue to be, events and fundraisers to support Rasmea all across the country. She’s a beloved leader of the Palestinian community, and we will not stop organizing until she’s exonerated.”
For more information and background on Rasmea Odeh’s case, go to http://justice4rasmea.org.