[News] Case against Lynne Stewart insults defense lawyer

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Thu Jan 6 11:05:01 EST 2005

Lawyer: New York terror case against Lynne Stewart insults defense lawyer

Associated Press Writer

January 5, 2005, 6:48 PM EST
NEW YORK -- Attorney Michael Tigar suggested Wednesday in a closing 
argument that the prosecution of a "courageous, brash and feisty" Manhattan 
defense lawyer on terrorism charges was an insult to the nation's other 
defense lawyers.

"The government of the United States has the arrogance to tell the defense 
bar how to practice law," Tigar told a federal jury as he underscored a 
threat felt by defense lawyers that had received little mention in the 
6-month-old trial.

Tigar, speaking for attorney Lynne Stewart, blamed the government for 
carelessly lacing the words "terrorist" and "terrorism" throughout its case 
against Stewart, Arabic interpreter Mohamed Yousry and postal employee 
Ahmed Abdel Sattar.

"They have a duty not to hype the evidence," Tigar said. Yet, he added, 
"The government has done just that, in a cynical way."

He criticized the closing argument by a prosecutor earlier in the week as 
"cruel and reckless and inaccurate."

Prosecutors have accused Stewart and Yousry of providing material support 
to a plot by Sattar to kill and kidnap people in a foreign country.

The government alleges Stewart and Yousry carried messages between Sattar 
and imprisoned Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, an Egyptian cleric serving a life 
sentence for a conspiracy to kill Egypt's president and to blow up New York 

If convicted, Sattar could face up to life in prison; Stewart and Yousry 
each could face about 20 years.

The U.S. District Court trial has featured only a few witnesses as the 
government relied primarily on dozens of audio clips and documents 
retrieved from more than 85,000 intercepts of Sattar's phone, fax and 
computer between 1995 and 2002.

Tigar said none of the conversations, most of which were translated for the 
jury from Arabic, suggested Stewart was part of a conspiracy "if one existed."

And he said Stewart could not be faulted for differing with the government 
over how to interpret prison rules imposed on Abdel-Rahman to keep the 
blind sheik from communicating with anyone except his wife and his lawyers.

He noted that Ramsey Clark, another lawyer for the sheik, had spoken to the 
media about Abdel-Rahman's opinions, setting a precedent that was followed 
by Stewart when she told the media in 2000 that the sheik was reconsidering 
his support for a cease-fire by militant followers in Egypt.

He promised the jurors that before he finished his summation Thursday or 
Monday, he would show them that Stewart "never communicated a message to 
the outside world that called for violence."

He portrayed Stewart, a 30-year civil rights law veteran, as a courageous 
lawyer willing to take on the case of Abdel-Rahman, an "old man, sick, a 
little bit nuts" from years of isolation since his 1993 arrest.

Stewart, 65, smiled from the defense table as Tigar told jurors she was the 
kind of lawyer who would accept $500 to pressure the government to improve 
prison conditions for her client rather than $10,000 to bring a lawsuit 
that would bring about the same effect.

He criticized the government for mocking Stewart for work she often did 
without being paid and suggested the government could benefit from a dose 
of humility.

"If a lawyer is sworn to represent someone who is despised and neglected 
and hated," Tigar said, "it is a mark of pride and badge of honor to pay 
attention to that client's needs."

Copyright © 2005, The Associated Press

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