12 July 2013

Sadistic Feds Deny Lynne Stewart Release

Free Her Now!

The Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Charles E. Samuels Jr., has denied compassionate release for 73-year-old leftist lawyer Lynne Stewart, whose health is rapidly deteriorating due to Stage IV breast cancer that has spread to her lungs, lymph nodes and shoulders. With a long history of defending radicals, black militants and the poor, Stewart was convicted in 2005 in a “war on terror” show trial, along with her interpreter, Mohamed Yousry, and her paralegal, Ahmed Abdel Sattar, for her vigorous defense of a blind Egyptian cleric imprisoned for an alleged plot to blow up New York City landmarks in the 1990s. Originally sentenced to 28 months in prison, Stewart was resentenced in 2010 to ten years at the instigation of the Obama administration. We noted at the time that this was effectively a death sentence, which the Feds are clearly determined to carry out.

Samuels, appointed head of America’s vast dungeon system by Attorney General Eric Holder in 2011, has spat on the demands of over 20,000 people who have signed a petition for Stewart’s release, ignoring as well the recommendations of the warden of the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Texas, where Stewart languishes. Stewart is too weak to receive medical treatment to arrest the cancer, and her white blood cell count has dropped to dangerous levels. Her husband, Ralph Poynter, has fought valiantly for her release and return to her family in New York City. In a statement following the Feds’ decision—an act of calculated cruelty—Poynter declared, “We shall not stand by idly while the Federal Bureau of Prisons murders Lynne Stewart.”

An April report by the Department of Justice’s inspector general advised greater use of “compassionate release” for terminally ill federal prisoners—those with 18 months’ or less life expectancy—in order to “save taxpayer money and reduce overcrowding” (New York Times, 1 May). But the capitalist state always has special rules for those who put a thorn in its side. One sick measure of this policy is that when Stewart asked to get her own medical records—a simple matter of photocopying—she was told to appeal in six months through the Freedom of Information Act! We have long fought for freedom for Lynne Stewart, a recipient in the Partisan Defense Committee’s Class-War Prisoner Stipend Program, and continue to urge our readers to sign the petition posted on lynnestewart.org. Free Lynne Stewart now!

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1027, 12 July 2013)

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