The charges against Rasmea Odeh, a prominent Arab-American community activist in Chicago, are suspicious and appear to be politically motivated. She is charged with lying on a naturalization application filed decades ago and is facing imprisonment, deportation and loosing her citizenship.
DDF has joined a broad coalition asking Attorney General Eric Holder to drop the charges against her. Please join us by sending an email to your members of Congress asking for their support in this campaign.
Rasmea Odeh was arrested on October 22nd, 2013, and charged with unlawful procurement of naturalization. The 67-year-old community leader is facing up to ten years in federal prison and the prospect of having her U.S. citizenship revoked and being deported.
Her arrest stems from allegations that she failed to disclose on her naturalization application an unjust conviction by Israeli military courts over 45 years ago. She was physically and sexually tortured into confessing to a crime she did not commit, and subjected to continued torture, sexual abuse and solitary confinement while in detention for 10 years.
These charges against Odeh are spurious because she has not hidden her torture and imprisonment. On the contrary, in 1979, she publicly testified before the UN in great detail about the torture to which she was subjected while imprisoned by Israel.
There is also reason to believe that the United States government knew in 1969 of her torture and imprisonment. Odeh testified that her father, a U.S. citizen, who was also interrogated and tortured by Israel at the time, was visited in prison by the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, who succeeded in getting him released.
President Obama has pledged the United States “to taking concrete actions against torture and to address the needs of its victims.” He has stated that “torture violates United States and international law as well as human dignity” and that the United States “must stand against torture wherever it takes place.”
The United States should make good on this pledge by dropping the charges against Odeh. Rasmea Odeh is a pillar of the Arab-American community and a model citizen who, since arriving in the United States twenty years ago, has dedicated herself to supporting the empowerment of Arab-American women and families.
Thousands of her supporters across the country have already contacted the Department of Justice to drop the charges, believing that this is a politically motivated attack, and a continuation of the profiling and repression faced by Arab and Muslim community leaders in the United States since 9/11.
We are concerned about the use of immigration law to criminally prosecute those who have been subjected to unjust confinement and torture. Such citizens should not be criminalized for fleeing persecution and arriving in the United States. Ms. Odeh not only has built a life for herself in this country, but also assisted hundreds of women in establishing homes for themselves in Chicagoland. In 2013, the Chicago Cultural Alliance recognized her efforts with its “Outstanding Community Leader” award.