Court tosses conviction of Arab-American for covering up terrorist past


(JTA) — A U.S. appeals court has vacated the conviction of a Palestinian-American for covering up her conviction and imprisonment in Israel for bombing attacks when she applied for U.S. citizenship.

A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit U.S. Appellate Court in Cincinnati on Feb. 25 overturned the conviction of Rasmieh Odeh, 68, an associate director at the Arab American Action Network. The district court that found her guilty should have allowed expert testimony that Odeh had post-traumatic stress disorder and therefore did not know she made false statements to U.S. immigration officials, the appeals court ruled, according to Reuters. The prison sentence of 18 months handed down last March was canceled.

The appellate court sent the case back to the district court, which could order a new trial.

Odeh was found guilty in Nov. 14, 2014, of covering up her conviction and imprisonment in Israel for her involvement in a number of Jerusalem bombings in 1969 — including one at a supermarket that killed two Hebrew University students, Leon Kanner and Eddie Joffe — when she entered the United States in 1995 and applied for citizenship in Detroit in 2004.

Israel jailed Odeh for life, but she was released in a prisoner exchange with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1980 and immigrated to the United States from Jordan.

Odeh has said her confession to the bombing was the result of severe torture by Israeli security forces, including rape and electric shocks.

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