DETROIT (CBS DETROIT/AP) – A Palestinian activist from Chicago has pleaded guilty to covering up her 1970 bombing convictions in Israel when she applied for U.S. citizenship.
Rasmea Odeh refused to say the word “guilty.” But she told a Detroit federal judge on Tuesday that she signed a plea agreement admitting her crime.
Odeh will be deported. She’s been in the U.S. for decades and is known for her work with Palestinian women in Chicago. But in 2013, she was charged with lying during the citizenship process years earlier.
Odeh didn’t disclose that she was convicted of two bombings in Israel, including one that killed two men in Jerusalem in 1969. Her past would have disqualified her for citizenship.
“For them to come back 20-years after she had come here as a permanent resident — nine years after she had gotten her citizenship — it was clear to us at that point that this was a political case. They were going after her because she was a leader in the Palestinian community and they were going after all of us that does Palestin support work in this country,” said spokesperson Hatem Abudyyeh.
“The prosectution was going for 5-7 years – they were pushing for 5-7 years – the fact that she’s not doing any jail-time is a victory,” said Abudyyeh. “The other victory is that we really put Israel on trial in the federal court system.”
Israel freed Odeh from prison after 10 years in a prisoner swap with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Now known as Rasmea Yousef, she’s associate director of Chicago’s Arab American Action Network.
Odeh insists she was tortured into confessing to the Israel bombings.
Dozens of people held signs in support of Odeh outside the courtroom in Detroit.
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