When she was arrested on Oct. 22, Rasmieh Odeh had been an American citizen since 2004. The charge? Lying on her naturalization application.
Odeh, a Palestinian-born activist, associate director of the Chicago-based Arab American Action Network, and recipient of the 2013 Oustanding Community Leader Award from the Chicago Cultural Alliance, was accused of omitting the 10 years she had spent detained in an Israeli prison from her application.
According to the federal indictment against her in a federal court in Michigan, she did not disclose that she had been a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, designated a terrorist group by the U.S. government, and had been convicted in a military court for her alleged involvement in a 1968 bombing Israeli authorities say was organized by the PFLP.
Odeh, now 65 and a prominent member of the Arab-American community in Chicago, said she was tortured before being convicted of taking part in the bombing. Odeh, who lives in Evergreen Park, is free on bond.
Key figures in the Arab-American and anti-war community jumped to organize a defense campaign for Odeh as soon as she was arrested, saying the immigration charges were politically motivated for her work as an outspoken critic of American policy in the Middle East.
But one question has stumped both her lawyer and members of the defense campaign: What prompted Immigration and Customs Enforcement to take another look into her naturalization application nine years after she became a citizen?