8 February 2013

Lynne Stewart’s Life in Danger

In order to receive urgently needed medical treatment for cancer that has spread to her lungs and back, 73-year-old radical lawyer Lynne Stewart requires immediate release from the federal dungeon in Texas where she is serving a ten-year sentence. The authorities have denied Stewart’s request to be transferred to the New York City hospital that previously treated her. Free Lynne Stewart now!

Stewart was already battling breast cancer when she entered prison in 2009 after being convicted in 2005 for her zealous defense of her client, a blind Egyptian cleric imprisoned for an alleged plot to blow up New York City landmarks in the early 1990s. In 2010, a judge quadrupled her original 28-month sentence at the instigation of the Obama administration. As we noted then, “The resentencing is for all intents and purposes a death sentence” (WV No. 962, 30 July 2010). Convicted along with Stewart were her translator, Mohamed Yousry, who has finished his sentence, and her paralegal, Ahmed Abdel Sattar, who is locked up for 24 years. Stewart, Yousry and Abdel Sattar should never have been charged and should not have spent a minute in jail!

The capitalist rulers have had it in for Stewart for her decades of vigorous legal defense of radicals, black militants and the poor. Indeed, the resentencing was explicitly based on her “lack of remorse” as well as draconian “anti-terror” guidelines that are part of a wholesale assault on civil liberties. Ralph Poynter, Stewart’s husband, has related that even in prison she has remained unbowed and given assistance to other prisoners appealing their sentences.

Stewart also witnessed the death of a prisoner on dialysis while helping her try to get to the nurses’ quarters; the prisoner’s pleas for help had been ignored. Afterward, Stewart told her husband, “I do not want to go that way” (takingaimradio.com, 6 November 2011). Stewart’s daughter, Dr. Zenobia Brown, has noted that it took almost four months before Stewart was able to see an oncologist after the return of her cancer was detected.

A January 21 letter by the Partisan Defense Committee to prison authorities demanded “that Lynne Stewart be released forthwith to receive all necessary medical care and be with her family.” We encourage others to send letters of protest to: Warden Joe Keffer, FMC Carswell, Federal Medical Center, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127; Charles E. Samuels, Jr., Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons; and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1017, 8 February 2013)

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