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Defense Argues Palestinian Organizer’s Indictment Was Product of Illegal FBI Investigation

Rasmea Odeh

A motion to dismiss an indictment against Palestinian American Rasmea Odeh for allegedly committing immigration fraud argues Odeh’s indictment was the “product of an illegal investigation into the First Amendment activities of the Arab-American Action Network (AAAN),” a community group based in Chicago.

Rasmea Odeh is an organizer in Chicago. She has been a naturalized citizen in the US since 1995. But, on October 22, 2013, the Department of Homeland Security suddenly had her arrested.

The federal government accused Odeh of neglecting to disclose on naturalization forms that she had been imprisoned by Israelis in Palestine for decades for terrorism-related offenses. She now faces up to ten years in prison if convicted and immediate deportation after her release.

When Odeh was charged, this website covered how her indictment was possibly a result of an FBI investigation into twenty-six activists, who were subpoenaed by a federal grand jury and targeted by the FBI in 2010. Some of those activists had their homes raided and property seized.

Now, Odeh’s defense attorneys—Michael Deutsch, Jim Fennerty and William Goodman—have made the connection and are arguing Odeh would not have been indicted if the government had not been targeting individuals for their First Amendment-protected activities.

A motion [PDF] filed on August 13 argues the indictment was “intended to suppress the work of the defendant in support of the Arab community of Chicago.” It requests that the indictment be “quashed as politically motivated and based on the selective use of the criminal law to target protected political work.”

The defense asks the judge for “discovery of communication between the US Attorney’s Office in Chicago and Detroit” on the decision to indict Odeh, as well as an evidentiary hearing on claims made in the motion. Attorneys believe the evidence will prove allegations and support a dismissal of the indictment.

In January 2010, the FBI and the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois launched an investigation into AAAN, including Odeh and Hatem Abudayyeh, one of the people who had their homes raided by the FBI in September 2010.

Members of AAAN were allegedly placed under surveillance by the FBI and, the motion adds, “as a result of this investigation the defendant was targeted by the Northern District of Illinois.”

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."