Detroit U.S. Attorney threatens supporters of Rasmea Odeh
The following is a press release from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, located in Minneapolis.
In a bizarre and desperate move, prosecutors in the case of Palestinian American leader Rasmea Odeh filed a motion in Federal Court Oct. 3, which characterized the efforts of an important leader of the Rasmea Odeh defense campaign, Hatem Abudayyeh, as “jury tampering” and “almost certainly criminal.” The prosecution then asks Judge Gershwin Drain for an “Anonymous Jury,” which means that the names of the jurors are kept secret from the defense attorneys, and that an array of security measures are put in place during the trial that make it seem like 67-year-old Rasmea Odeh is a dangerous person.
There is no evidence at all for the baseless accusations against the movement in support of Rasmea. The prosecutor’s motion is a clumsy attempt at intimidation and should be condemned by everyone who is concerned about civil liberties.
Here are the facts: Rasmea Odeh is a beloved leader of the Palestinian community in Chicago who is facing trumped up immigration charges. Imprisoned by the Israelis in the late 1960s, due to her work to free Palestine, Rasmea Odeh was tortured and sexually abused. She is well-known and respected across the world. The federal government is threatening her with jail and deportation. As a result, a powerful and effective movement organized protests around the country, demanding “Justice for Rasmea.”
Now the prosecutors are waging an attack on everyone involved in this movement to support and defend Rasmea Odeh.
They talk about “jury tampering.” Until there is a trial, there is no jury, so how could a jury possibly be tampered with? In any event, at no time have we ever tried to improperly influence a jury. Not once. What we are doing is organizing protests, having people sign petitions and holding educational events. We are encouraging people to attend Rasmea’s court appearances. We are shining a light on the unjust prosecution of Rasmea. We want the government to drop the charges.
In the prosecutor’s motion we are told, “Hatem Abudayyeh has orchestrated a concerted effort to influence the criminal proceedings against defendant, which has resulted, at each proceeding, in a large group outside the Courthouse protesting and parading, carrying signs demanding dismissal of charges and ‘Justice for Rasmea’ and displaying the Palestinian flag.”
Imagine that. Palestinians, Arabs and progressive people responded to an injustice by holding a protest and engaging in activity that is protected by the First Amendment. In the world that the Detroit U.S. Attorney wants, speaking out as we have is, “almost certainly criminal.” On the contrary — it is criminal for the prosecutors to attempt to restrict our constitutional rights.
It is worth noting that there is a distinctly racist, anti-Arab undertone to the prosecutor’s motion, where spirited and dignified protests, with a majority of Palestinian-American participants, are described as “hordes” and “mobs.” Again, the federal government is trying to sow fear among people in the U.S. by criminalizing and stereotyping Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims. As one of Rasmea Odeh’s lawyers said when he was informed of the motion, it “is only intended to play the ‘terrorism’ card and is unacceptable.”
The prosecutors also have a problem with people who want to petition the government for a redress of grievances, so they complain in their motion that those who want the charges against Rasmea dropped “have previously attempted to flood Department of Justice telephone lines in an attempt to influence these proceedings.”
We will continue to hold call-in days and we will organize even more people to participate in them.
We take the threats of the prosecution seriously. We urge all of our supporters to keep their eyes on Detroit and to be ready to respond to any attacks on leaders of the Rasmea defense campaign.
We see these threats as a sign that our campaign to defend Rasmea Odeh is working. We were successful in getting Zionist Judge Borman off the case. There are now thousands of people across the country engaged in organizing for Rasmea. We will not allow the government to intimidate us. This attack will bring more supporters and strengthen our work further. We will redouble our efforts to make sure the charges against Rasmea Odeh are dropped!