[Pnews] U.S. Attorney Trying to Jail Tortured Palestinian Activist, Rasmea Odeh, Seeks Anonymous Jury

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Oct 10 11:15:46 EDT 2014

  U.S. Attorney Trying to Jail Tortured Palestinian Activist Seeks
  Anonymous Jury

Posted: 10/09/2014 4:33 pm EDT Updated: 10/09/2014 5:59 pm EDT

/By Dima Khalidi, Director of Palestine Solidarity Legal Support and 
Cooperating Counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights/

The U.S. Attorney filed an extraordinary motion this week 
<http://images.politico.com/global/2014/10/05/odehanonjury.pdf> in the 
controversial prosecution of Rasmea Odeh, seeking an order to empanel an 
anonymous jury and sequester jurors 
from protests occurring outside the Detroit courthouse so that they are 
not improperly swayed by Odeh's supporters.

Rasmea Odeh, a beloved Palestinian-American community leader who has 
built an impressive program for hundreds of immigrant Arab women in 
Chicago <http://www.merip.org/justice-rasmea-odeh> with the Arab 
American Action Network (AAAN), was arrested last October and charged 
with immigration fraud. The charges stem from allegations that Ms. Odeh, 
who has been in the U.S. for 20 years and was naturalized in 2003, 
failed to indicate on her naturalization application that she was 
convicted by an Israeli military court and imprisoned for 10 years. At 
the age of 21 in 1969, Odeh was arrested, severely tortured 
sexually and otherwise, into confessing to a crime she maintains she did 
not commit, and convicted by an Israeli military court system notorious 
for its violations of basic due process rights and its almost 100 
percent conviction rate of Palestinian defendants. Despite having been 
vocal about her torture experience, testifying to a UN committee 
in 1979, and speaking publicly about it over the years, Odeh now faces 
another 10 years in a U.S. prison and de-naturalization if she is 

The U.S. Attorney's motion represents another startlingly repressive 
action in this continuing witch hunt of a respected Palestinian-American 
community member. Contrary to the U.S. Attorney's characterization, 
Odeh's so-called "hoard" [sic] of supporters do not seek to tamper with 
the jury or justice system. They seek, as is their constitutional right, 
to bear witness to another illegitimate targeting of a 
politically-minded Arab activist, scholar and community leader, and to 
communicate to all who will listen about a grave injustice. It is only 
from the U.S. Attorney's warped perspective that these acts of 
conscience and solidarity -- rather than its own prosecutorial overreach 
-- can be deemed a threat to our justice system.

Anonymous juries are an extreme measure used to protect jurors from 
serious threats to their safety. They are often used in cases related to 
mob activities in which there is a history of real threats of juror 
intimidation and violence. The prosecutor's motion in this case cites no 
such threats or prospect of violence; what is does do is attack Odeh's 
constitutional rights to due process, an impartial jury, and the 
presumption of innocence. Courts view anonymous juries as exceptional 
measures because of their potential to paint the defendant as a 
dangerous person from whom jurors need protection and thereby undermine 
the defendant's right to a presumption of innocence. Such a measure also 
denies the defense an adequate opportunity to screen jurors for 
potential biases during the voire dire jury selection process by denying 
the defense access to identifying juror information.

The fear-mongering attempt to portray Odeh's supporters as an unruly mob 
or horde has racist undertones given the modest number of predominantly 
Arab and Muslim supporters that have appeared outside her hearings with 
signs, and that filled the courtroom for the first open hearing on 
October 2. Also troubling is the attack on a fundamental First Amendment 
right to free speech, which protects the right of individuals to gather 
and engage in such advocacy outside of courthouses within the bounds of 
the law -- which her supporters have been careful to follow -- and to 
attend public court proceedings. The insinuations in the prosecution's 
motion that such activities by Odeh's supporters are criminal not only 
rely on baseless conjectures about their intentions to improperly 
influence the jury, but are highly chilling to these speech rights as well.

As withinnumerable other cases 
of government overreach and bias in prosecuting Palestinians and Muslims 
more generally, the public support for Odeh is vital to raising 
awareness about the case and about the overwhelming biases in the media 
and the judicial process that are weighted against her. All over the 
country, PSLS is documenting incidents of repression 
against Palestine solidarity activists who are being targeted by the 
government and Israel advocacy organizations because they are outspoken 
advocates for Palestinian rights. Odeh's case is part of this pattern.

At her first open-court pre-trial hearing on October 2, the judge denied 
her motion to dismiss the case 
which claimed that the prosecution was part of a larger effort to target 
and intimidate politically active Palestinian-Americans in the 
community, including the AAAN's Executive Director, Hatem Abudayyeh. 
Odeh's attorney, Michael Deutsch, said that Odeh's indictment was the 
"fruit of an illegal investigation" by the U.S. government, tied to the 
subpoenas of 23 midwest antiwar activists 
in 2010, and that Odeh was selectively prosecuted because of her 
protected First Amendment activities advocating for Palestinian rights.

Supporters have been rallying to Odeh's defense, calling in to the U.S. 
Attorney to drop the charges against her and gathering outside of the 
courthouse during her court appearances. This summer, the judge 
appointed to hear Odeh's case recused himself 
after the defense requested that he do so because of his significant 
financial support of Israel and after it was found that the judge's 
family had financial interests in Israel related to the case. Odeh's 
trial is set to begin on November 4. Additional news, updates, and ways 
to support Odeh are available at stopfbi.net. 

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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