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Palestinian-American activist held in solitary confinement

Community leader Rasmea Odeh, 67, is facing up to 10 years in prison, revocation of her US citizenship, and deportation
US rights groups say Odeh is facing health problems caused by her solitary confinement (Flickr/Abayomi Azikiwe)

Palestinian-American activist Rasmea Odeh has been held in solitary confinement for nearly two weeks, according to US-based rights groups, as her supporters are calling on authorities in Michigan to release the 67-year-old.

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression reported on Friday that Odeh has been held in solitary confinement for 12 days and was confined to her cell at St. Clair County Jail all day, “except at midnight for a few short minutes”.

Odeh cannot make phone calls or receive visitors, the group said.

“We have grave concerns about Rasmea’s well-being,” the committee wrote in a press release. “She has not been eating well, due to ongoing dental pain as well as other health issues exacerbated by the conditions of solitary confinement.”

Originally from Jerusalem, Odeh was convicted in US court on 10 November of “unlawful procurement of naturalisation” for not disclosing on her application for US citizenship that she had been convicted by an Israeli military court in 1969 for alleged involvement in two bombings.

She spent 10 years in Israeli prison – based on a confession obtained through physical and sexual torture – before being released in a prisoner exchange.

Odeh has been detained since losing her US case, and her lawyers have filed requests for her release ahead of sentencing, which is set for 10 March 2015.

She faces 10 years in prison, the revocation of her citizenship, and deportation.

“She has [a dental condition] causing pain, and is experiencing spikes in her blood pressure – to say nothing of the recurrence of her PTSD symptoms,” her lawyers said, according to the US Palestinian Community Network.

The Center for Constitutional Rights decried Odeh’s detention in solitary confinement as “heartbreaking, cruel, and outrageous”.

“Solitary confinement is a practice with devastating psychological and physical effects recognised by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to be a form of torture. St. Clair County Sheriff Tim Donnellon’s decision to place a torture survivor in solitary confinement shocks the conscience,” the centre said in a statement.

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