Woman pleads not guilty to immigration charge
DETROIT (AP) – A Chicago-area woman accused of failing to tell U.S. immigration authorities about her role in a deadly bombing in Israel made her first court appearance Wednesday in Detroit, where she gained citizenship nearly a decade ago.
Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, an activist who is associate director at the Arab American Action Network in Chicago, pleaded not guilty. Her supporters marched outside the federal courthouse with signs that bore her photo and said, “stop anti-Arab racism.”
Odeh was convicted of an attack that killed two people at a Jerusalem market in 1969. An Israeli military court sentenced her to life in prison in 1970, but she was released 10 years later in a prisoner swap with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Odeh, 66, of Evergreen Park, Ill., is charged with not disclosing her conviction when she applied for U.S. citizenship in Detroit.
She came to the U.S. from Jordan in 1995 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2004, the indictment says, but she could lose that status if convicted.
“I don’t want to speak,” she said, declining comment outside court following a brief arraignment.
Odeh was released on bond under the same conditions that were set after her arrest in Illinois on Oct. 22.
The courtroom was crowded with more than a dozen supporters. Outside the courthouse, they marched in a circle and chanted criticism of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Defense attorney William Swor is taking over the case from a Chicago attorney.
“The government says they were somehow misled” during the immigration process, Swor told The Associated Press. “We’ll be asking questions about that.”
In east Jerusalem, Rawda Odeh, who spent time with Odeh in prison, said Rasmieh should not be stripped of her U.S. citizenship.
“She spent a sentence in prison for what she did. Does she have to be punished 10 times for what she did?” Rawda Odeh told the AP.
AP reporter Dalia Nammari in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
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