After cancelling a November 29 Daubert hearing last week, Eastern District of Michigan Federal Judge Gershwin Drain reviewed written arguments, and ruled today that Palestinian American community organizer Rasmea Odeh will be granted a new trial.
“This is incredible news,” said Nesreen Hasan, a leader of the Rasmea Defense Committee and its lead organization, the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN). “The government has gone to great lengths to cover up the details of Israel’s torture and crimes against this mentor of mine and of so many others, this Palestinian icon. Now, the truth will finally be told, in open court. Rasmea will be vindicated.”
Last year, Rasmea was sentenced to 18 months in prison and deportation after being convicted in 2014 of Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization, a politically-motivated immigration charge, for failing to disclose on applications for U.S. citizenship that she had been arrested decades earlier in Palestine by Israeli authorities. In February 2016, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to Judge Drain, saying he had wrongfully barred the testimony of a torture expert that was critical to the defense. At the original trial, Rasmea was not allowed to tell the entire story of Israel forcing her to falsely confess to alleged bombings in 1969, when she endured over three weeks of vicious sexual, physical, and psychological torture at the hands of the Israeli military.
Rasmea suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of this torture, which, according to her clinical psychologist, Dr. Mary Fabri (who has worked with torture survivors for 25 years, and at the world-renowned Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture for 12), caused her to suppress the horrible recollection of the arrest when she answered questions on her immigration application. Judge Drain excluded Fabri’s testimony from the first trial, and disallowed any evidence about the rape and torture. Today’s decision clears the way for a new trial, where this testimony can finally be heard by a jury. The judge had previously mentioned January 10, 2017, as a potential new trial date, but today’s ruling does not include a specific start.
In filings before the ruling, the government argued that Judge Drain should again exclude Fabri’s testimony, asserting that Rasmea did not have PTSD, that she was feigning her symptoms, and therefore, that her memory could not have been impacted during the immigration process. Despite recently subjecting her to 17 hours of clinical mental examination to prove these theories, the government’s own expert affirmed the diagnosis of PTSD, and reported that Rasmea was not faking any symptoms.
At the new trial next year, defense attorneys are hopeful a jury that finally gets the opportunity to hear testimony about torture and PTSD, will find Rasmea not guilty. In the meantime, the defense committee is calling on U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade to stop wasting taxpayer money and end this travesty of justice right now–by dropping the charges now and letting Rasmea go free!
“This has been a politically-motivated case from day one,” said Frank Chapman, Field Organizer for the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. “The whole case against Rasmea is nothing but a pretext to intimidate those who organize and struggle to realize a liberated Palestine. She has remained determined in the face of this repression, and we will continue to stand beside her. Hundreds have come out from across the country to stand with Rasmea at every hearing, and every day of her trial and appeal. These same hundreds, and thousands more, are now demanding of McQuade, ‘Drop the Charges Now!’”
Today, we celebrate another great victory in the campaign, but we won’t stop here.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, December 7, 2016–FOR A FULL DAY, from 9 AM to 5 PM EST–please call U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade at 313-226-9100, and demand that she stop wasting taxpayer money, that she stop persecuting a woman who has given so much to U.S. society, and that she Drop the Charges Against Rasmea Now!
In the meantime, the Rasmea Defense Committee, led by USPCN and the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, urges supporters to continue to struggle for #Justice4Rasmea by donating to the defense and organizing educational events about Rasmea and the campaign in your communities. Visitwww.justice4rasmea.org or email email@example.com to get more involved.