The American Human Rights Council (AHRC-USA) joins the human rights community and the peace-loving people around the world in welcoming the recent 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling on Palestinian American leader Rasmea Odeh’s appeal of her immigration case. On 2014, a federal grand jury in Eastern District Court found her guilty of lying on her citizenship application as to a conviction imposed on her by Israel.
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals’ panel of judges unanimously decided to vacate the conviction on the grounds that the trial judge should not have categorically disallowed her presentation of evidence as to her suffering from Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at the time she completed her naturalization application. The Court stated:
“On appeal, Odeh’s primary argument is that she was denied the right to present a complete defense because the district court precluded her witness, an expert in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), from testifying about why Odeh did not know that her statements were false. Odeh maintains that the expert would have testified that Odeh’s alleged torture in an Israeli prison gave her PTSD, which shaped the way that she viewed questions about her criminal history in the naturalization application. Because this type of testimony is not categorically inadmissible to negate a defendant’s knowledge of the falsity of a statement, the district court must consider the admissibility of the testimony.”
The case will be returned to the trial judge to decide on the admissibility of the evidence. AHRC hopes that the trial judge considers the PTSD evidence and admits it. We hope the evidence of PTSD will help exonerate her and allow her to stay in her adopted country with her family, friends and supporters.
“We are glad that the Sixth Circuit has vacated the judgment and sent the case back to the trial court,” said Imad Hamad, AHRC Executive Director. “We believe that Ms Odeh is a great Arab American leader and activist whose long record of helping others speaks volumes as to her integrity. We hope that the PTSD evidence will help her win her case,” added Hamad.
The Court’s order can accessed at: http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/