8 June 2012

Lynne Stewart Appeal Rejected

On June 28, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the vindictive 10-year prison sentence against leftist attorney Lynne Stewart, who was prosecuted for defending an Islamic cleric imprisoned for an alleged plot to blow up New York City landmarks in the early 1990s. Stewart, along with her interpreter Mohamed Yousry and paralegal Ahmed Abdel Sattar, was convicted in February 2005 of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism and to defraud the U.S. government. As we wrote at the time in WV No. 842 (18 February 2005): “The verdict gives the government a green light to prosecute lawyers for the alleged crimes of their clients, thereby shooting the basic right to counsel to hell.” Opponents of the “war on terror” assault on democratic rights must demand: Free Lynne Stewart now!

Stewart was initially sentenced to 28 months in prison. The Obama administration appealed the ruling in order to vastly increase the sentence. Rather than expressing regret for representing her client, in a November 2009 interview Stewart declared: “I would do it again.” In 2010, a federal court quadrupled the then 70-year-old cancer patient’s sentence to ten years, which her lawyer described last week as “a lifetime, her lifetime.”

In its ruling, the Second Circuit repeatedly cited Stewart’s “lack of remorse” as a key motivation for upholding the sentence. The court also cynically proclaimed that “permitting review of the defendant’s public statements” to justify this barbaric punishment—namely comments made after her original sentencing—“does not violate her right to speak under First Amendment principles.” As Stewart’s husband, Ralph Poynter, told WV: “They’re angry because she’s not bent or bowed.”

The Partisan Defense Committee has contributed to Stewart’s defense and encourages others to do the same. Donations can be sent to: Lynne Stewart Organization, 1070 Dean Street, Brooklyn, New York 11216. Letters can be mailed to: Lynne Stewart, #53504-054, FMC Carswell, Federal Medical Center, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1005, 6 July 2012)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.