March 12, 2015

Rasmea Odeh to speak at her sentencing March 12

200 supporters to join her in Detroit courthouse

Support rally Thursday, March 12th, at 10 AM Eastern, at 231 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, Michigan.  Sentencing hearing begins at 11 AM Eastern.

Today, Rasmea Odeh, Chicago’s 67-year-old Palestinian community leader, will speak directly to Judge Gershwin Drain in a Detroit federal court, to describe her extraordinary life story and explain why he should not sentence her to imprisonment following her conviction in November 2014 on a single charge of Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization. 

Despite the fact that 98% of all sentences for this offense are at or below sentencing guidelines of 12 to 21 months, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel will try to convince the judge that Odeh should receive 5 to 7 years, based on allegations that she perjured herself and obstructed justice during the trial, and on this dangerous and 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 lead attorneys, Michael Deutsch and Jim Fennerty, will also argue for no jail time, by asking the judge to take her age, poor health, chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and “exemplary history in the United States” into consideration.  In a “sentencing memorandum” filed with the court last week, they asserted that “there is no reasonable justification for sending Ms. Odeh to federal prison.

“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.”

Over 70 letters of leniency were attached to the memo, “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.”  

Close to 200 people will join Odeh in Detroit, including over 100 from Chicago alone, to show their support for the woman considered a community icon.  “We believe strongly that Rasmea should get no prison time at all,” says Jess Sundin of the national Rasmea Defense Committee, who helped organize 25 people to attend the hearing from Minneapolis.  “The conviction was unjust and we are confident that she will be exonerated on appeal.  When the prosecution uses the word ‘terrorism,’ it is nothing more than fear mongering.  We believe that won’t work, and justice will prevail.”

Odeh plans to appeal her conviction, and will request the granting of an appellate bond no matter the sentence.

For more information and background on the case, go to 

Op-Eds published yesterday are here.