[Ppnews] Lynne Stewart gets 28 month sentence

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Oct 16 17:44:39 EDT 2006

Article published Oct 16, 2006
Civil Rights Lawyer Sentenced to Prison

Associated Press Writer

Former civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart speaks at a rally in front 
of Manhattan federal court before her scheduled sentencing, Monday, 
Oct. 16, 2006, in New York. Stewart faces up to 30 years in prison 
after being found guilty of giving material support to terrorists by 
helping her then client convicted terrorist Sheik Ahmed Abdel Rahman 
pass information to his followers. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)
A firebrand civil rights lawyer who has defended Black Panthers and 
anti-war radicals was sentenced Monday to nearly 2 1/2 years in 
prison - far less than the 30 years prosecutors wanted - for helping 
an imprisoned terrorist sheik communicate with his followers on the outside.

Lynne Stewart, 67, smiled, cried and hugged supporters after U.S. 
District Judge John G. Koeltl pronounced the sentence of 28 months.

The judge said Stewart was guilty of smuggling messages between her 
client and his followers that could have "potentially lethal 
consequences." He called the crimes "extraordinarily severe criminal conduct."

But in departing from federal guidelines that called for 30 years 
behind bars, he cited Stewart's more than three decades of dedication 
to poor, disadvantaged and unpopular clients.

"Ms. Stewart performed a public service, not only to her clients, but 
to the nation," Koeltl said.

The judge said Stewart could remain free while she appeals, a process 
that could take more than a year.

Stewart was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, and her lawyer 
Elizabeth Fink had warned in a plea to the judge: "If you send her to 
prison, she's going to die. It's as simple as that."

Outside court, Stewart said she thought the sentence was "a victory 
for doing good work all one's life." She added: "You get time off for 
good behavior usually at the end of your prison term. I got it at the 

U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia had no immediate comment.

Stewart has represented Black Panthers, leaders of the 1960s student 
activist group Weather Underground, a former mob hit man and a man 
accused of trying to kill nine police officers.

Stewart was convicted in 2005 of providing material support to 
terrorists. She had released a statement issued by one of her 
clients, Omar Abdel-Rahman, a blind sheik sentenced to life in prison 
for plotting to blow up five New York landmarks and assassinate 
Egypt's president.

Prosecutors have called the case a major victory in the war on 
terrorism. They said Stewart and other defendants carried messages 
between the sheik and top members of an Egypt-based terrorist 
organization, helping spread Abdel-Rahman's call to kill those who 
did not subscribe to his extremist interpretation of Islamic law.

Stewart was arrested six months after the Sept. 11 attacks, along 
with Mohamed Yousry, an Arabic interpreter, and Ahmed Abdel Sattar, a 
U.S. postal worker.

Yousry was sentenced to one year and eight months behind bars, while 
Sattar received 24 years in prison Monday.

Convicted of conspiracy to kill and kidnap people in a foreign 
country, Sattar could have gotten a life sentence. But the judge said 
no one was killed or injured, and he cited Sattar's lack of previous 
crimes and his restrictive prison conditions.

In a letter to the judge, Stewart proclaimed: "I am not a traitor." 
She said she did not intentionally enter into any conspiracy to help 
a terrorist organization.

"The end of my career truly is like a sword in my side," Stewart said 
at her sentencing. "Permit me to live out the rest of my life 
productively, lovingly, righteously."

In court papers, prosecutors said Stewart's "egregious, flagrant 
abuse of her profession, abuse that amounted to material support to a 
terrorist group, deserves to be severely punished."

Earlier, about 150 Stewart supporters who could not get inside the 
filled-to-capacity courtroom stood outside the courthouse, chanting 
"Free Lynne, Free Lynne."

"It's not just Lynne Stewart who is a victim; it's the Bill of Rights 
that's the victim," said Al Dorfman, 72, a retired lawyer.

About 200 more supporters jammed the halls outside the courtroom.


Associated Press writer Pat Milton and AP Radio correspondent Warren 
Levinson contributed to this report.

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