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Jailed ‘People’s Lawyer’ Lynne Stewart transferred to Texas medical prison

By staff

Lynne Stewart, a long-time progressive lawyer serving a ten-year prison sentence for allegedly helping terrorists, has been transferred from a New York City jail to the Carswell Federal Medical Facility near Fort Worth, Texas.

Stewart is a 71-year old breast cancer survivor who was jailed for her work as a lawyer representing Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as the ‘Blind Sheikh.’ Abdel-Rahman was accused of plotting the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Stewart has a long career as a human rights champion, defending the poor, the oppressed and the unpopular, who rarely get good legal representation or a fair trial. For example Stewart legally defended high profile political prisoners such as former Black Panther and Black Liberation Army member Sekou Odinga and controversial people such as Larry Davis, who was charged with killing some New York police officers.

In 2005 Stewart was convicted of conspiracy, providing material support to terrorists and defrauding the U.S. government, for allegedly distributing messages on behalf Abdel-Rahman. In October 2006, Judge Koeltl sentenced Stewart to two years and four months in prison. She started serving her sentence in late 2009. Then, in a highly unusual move, the federal prosecutor demanded that her sentence be increased to between 15 and 30 years. In July 2010, the judge upped her sentence to ten years after an appeals court decided Stewart wasn’t repentant enough, based on statements she had made to the press. This was nearly five times as long as her initial sentence and was shocking to most observers, considering Stewart was a 70-year old recent cancer survivor.

According to her support committee, the government repression against Stewart, “is an obvious attempt by the U.S. government to silence dissent, curtail vigorous defense lawyers, and instill fear in those who would fight against the U.S. government’s racism, seek to help Arabs and Muslims being prosecuted for free speech and defend the rights of all oppressed people.”

Speaking on the significance of the government attack on Stewart, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who also represented Abdel-Rahman in the case along with Stewart, said in a 2005 interview on Democracy Now!, “It is clear that Lynne Stewart and the truth and the Constitution of the United States are all victims of 9/11 and of a repressive government that is taking advantage of the fear that they have helped create arising from that that is destroying freedom in this country...This case would never have been brought except for the fear generated and the advantage that the Bush administration was taking of it by the events on Sept. 11, 2001. In ordinary times and circumstances, it would be recognized that everything that Lynne did was exactly what an effective attorney representing a client zealously would be obligated to do...I don’t know of anything that Lynne did that I didn’t do. We did what we had to do to represent our clients. And if you don’t do that, then you don’t have truth before the jury or before the public and you don’t have the Constitutional right to the assistance of counsel.”

Stewart’s recent transfer to Texas moves her further away from family and friends in New York, but in a letter to supporters on Dec. 19, she cites some improvements in conditions in the new facility, such as better food than at the prison in New York.

Donations can be sent to Lynne Stewart for her basic needs in prison by U.S. Post Office money order or business or government check, mailed to Federal Bureau of Prisons, 53504-054, Lynne Stewart, PO Box 474701, Des Moines, Iowa 50947-001 (payable to Lynne Stewart, 53504-054). More information on Lynne Stewart is at's Lawyer Lynne Stewart

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