National Lawyers Guild files brief asking for Rasmea Odeh’s freedom pending sentencing

National_lawyers_guild_emblemDETROIT–The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) has filed a motion to be admitted as amicus curiae in the case of Rasmea Odeh, to support the request by Rasmea Odeh’s attorneys that the Court reconsider its decision to deny her bond pending sentencing on March 12, 2015. On November 10, 2014 the prominent 67-year-old Palestinian Chicago community leader was found guilty of an immigration violation for failing to disclose having been convicted of bombing charges by the Israeli military in occupied Palestine more than 40 years ago – her confession of which had been coerced through 45 days of brutal torture and rape during incarceration. The Court had gutted Odeh’s defense – represented by a team of NLG attorneys – when it prohibited testimony about her torture, rape, and subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder from trial. Deeming Odeh a “flight risk,” the Court has denied her bond. The NLG urges the Court to reconsider this decision so that Odeh may continue her award-winning community work in Chicago until sentencing.

Since her arrest one year ago, the NLG has been working to free Odeh as part of the Rasmea Defense Committee, which provides community grassroots support for Odeh.

Longtime NLG attorney Barbara Harvey, who filed the November 20 motion on behalf of the Guild, stated: “The amicus brief brings together Palestinians and Jews, Christians and Arabs, lawyers and non-lawyers, from six major human rights groups in this country to express their sorrow and ask the Court to show compassion for a 67-year-old Palestinian American woman who has helped hundreds of Arab women immigrants assimilate into US life and culture; 261 of these women also ask the Court to release Rasmea Odeh from prison pending sentencing.”

The NLG, Jewish Voice for Peace, Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, National Students for Justice in Palestine, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee attached a joint letter to Judge Drain to the amicus papers, supporting Ms. Odeh’s request for reconsideration of bond. NLG President Azadeh Shahshahani said, “Rasmea Odeh belongs with her friends and community, especially the Arab-American women she has been supporting and serving for the past decade. Based on her deep bonds to Chicago and her exemplary character, she should be set free immediately.”

Odeh faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and immediate deportation upon release, which could not only threaten her safety, but also deprive the Chicago community of her outstanding leadership and support.
As Harvey asks, “Is our legal system dedicated to justice or is it so vengeful that we cannot show mercy to a person such as Rasmea Odeh, who has been a law-abiding resident of this country for 20 years and peacefully transformed her personal suffering into the energy to serve others?”
The National Lawyers Guild was formed in 1937 as the nation’s first racially integrated bar association to advocate for the protection of constitutional, human and civil rights.