Workers Vanguard No. 1055
31 October 2014
Feds Witchhunt Palestinian Activist
Hands Off Rasmea Odeh!
On November 4, Rasmea Odeh, a 67-year-old Palestinian activist and associate director of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), will be tried in a Detroit federal court on trumped-up charges of “immigration fraud” for which she faces ten years in prison followed by deportation. The supposed fraud is that, when she applied for U.S. citizenship in 2004, Odeh failed to disclose her 1970 frame-up conviction by an Israeli military court for her alleged involvement in planting bombs at a Jerusalem supermarket and the British consulate. That conviction was based on a supposed confession extracted through vicious torture, including electric shock and multiple rapes, at the hands of the Zionist butchers. Odeh, alleged to be a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which was deemed a “terrorist” organization by the U.S., languished for a decade in Israeli dungeons.
Her prosecution springs out of a “war on terror” witchhunt against AAAN and activists associated with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. In September 2010, FBI agents raided the homes of AAAN executive director Hatem Abudayyeh and six others. As the Partisan Defense Committee, a legal and social defense organization associated with the Spartacist League, noted at the time: “From its inception under the Bush administration, the ‘war on terror,’ which initially victimized Arab and Muslim immigrants, set into motion repressive measures that also target leftists, trade unionists, and black people. Now the Obama administration is escalating these wholesale attacks on civil liberties with these neo-McCarthyite raids” (see “Protest FBI Raids on Leftists, Union Activists!” WV No. 966, 8 October 2010). Ultimately, 26 activists were subpoenaed by a federal grand jury investigating charges of “support” to terrorism. There has not been a single indictment, but the investigation is being kept open in order to intimidate the activists.
A year ago, after collecting documents from the Israeli state, the Feds arrested Odeh. In an 18 November 2013 protest letter to U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, the PDC wrote: “Ms. Odeh is being prosecuted for being a Palestinian activist. The object of the Federal Government’s prosecution of Ms. Odeh is to make an example of her and deter not only Palestinians but any other immigrant who makes it here from continuing to struggle for their democratic rights.” We say: Drop the charges! Hands off Rasmea Odeh!
On August 13, Odeh’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the charges against her because she has been caught up in a politically motivated witchhunt. On October 8, federal judge Gershwin Drain rejected this motion in a Catch-22 ruling in which he claimed that Odeh had not offered enough “specific detail” to show that she is being targeted, but denied her the discovery she needs to amass that detailed evidence.
Now the prosecutors are targeting Odeh’s defense committee, accusing AAAN director Abudayyeh “and his hoard [sic] of supporters” of threatening to “taint” the jury pool through their demonstrations outside the courthouse. On October 16, the judge ordered the jurors to meet at a secret off-site location for escort to the courthouse garage by federal marshals so that they would “not be exposed to the Defendant’s supporters.” The judge also directed that the city’s noise ordinance be used to harass protesters and ordered that Odeh’s supporters not be allowed into the courtroom wearing “inappropriate attire,” such as “Free Rasmea” T-shirts.
The PDC has signed a statement at stopfbi.net in support of the right of the Rasmea Defense Committee and others to protest against the witchhunt. We urge trade unions, civil liberties organizations and others to do the same. Funds are urgently needed for Odeh’s legal defense, to which the PDC has contributed. Donations can be mailed to: Committee to Stop FBI Repression, PO Box 14183, Minneapolis, MN 55414.