DETROIT (AP) — A federal jury found a Palestinian immigrant charged with immigration fraud guilty on Monday for failing to disclose her conviction and imprisonment in a Jerusalem supermarket bombing that killed two people.
Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, 67, was charged for not revealing an Israeli military court conviction for several bombings in 1969. She served 10 years before being released in a prisoner swap with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Odeh is associate director of Chicago’s Arab American Action Network. She is widely respected in Chicago for her work with immigrants, especially Arab women.
The criminal case against her angered pro-Palestinian activists who accused the U.S. government of trying to silence critics of Israel. Dozens of supporters traveled from Chicago to watch the trial, either in the courtroom or in a separate courtroom that carried a video feed.
Odeh also had said Israeli authorities tortured her to get a confession. But U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain barred reference to that at trial. He said what happened in Israel was not relevant to whether she lied on the citizenship form.
“I think your verdict is a fair and reasonable one based on the evidence that came in,” Drain told the jury after the verdict was announced.
Odeh and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel clashed during Odeh’s testimony last week when she insisted she didn’t believe the criminal history questions extended beyond the U.S.
Odeh was interviewed in 2004 by a Detroit immigration officer, Jennifer Williams, who told jurors she always tells citizenship applicants that criminal history applies to “anywhere in the world.” Odeh, however, testified that Williams didn’t use those words.
“I remember exactly what she said. … She didn’t add questions,” Odeh said.
During closing remarks, defense attorney Michael Deutsch said there was plenty of reasonable doubt for the jury.
“How hard would it be to make a form that clearly states what they’re asking?” he said.
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