6 September 2013

Medical Release Denied

Free Lynne Stewart!

Lynne Stewart, 73 years old and terminally ill with Stage IV breast cancer, was again denied medical release from prison on August 9. Judge John G. Koeltl turned down her latest request on the grounds that the Federal Bureau of Prisons must first make a motion in favor of such a release. This ruling throws the case back to the very prison authorities carrying out the vendetta against this outspoken leftist lawyer with a history of defending radicals, black militants and the poor. Federal prison director, Charles E. Samuels Jr., refused to release Stewart last June, falsely and vindictively citing an improvement in her health! Stewart, whose cancer has metastasized to her lungs, bones, lymph nodes and shoulder, is facing death within the prison walls if she is not released soon.

In a 2005 “war on terror” show trial, Stewart was framed up and convicted for giving material support to terrorism when representing Egyptian Islamic fundamentalist cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. The alleged “material support” was to communicate her client’s views to Reuters news service. This verdict gave the government a green light to prosecute lawyers for the alleged crimes of their clients and trampled on the basic right to counsel and free speech.

Her Arabic translator Mohamed Yousry and paralegal Ahmed Abdel Sattar were also convicted. In 2010, at the instigation of the Obama administration, a federal appeals court instructed Judge Koeltl to re-examine Stewart’s sentence. Appeasing his superiors, he upped the original 28-month sentence to ten years, making it in effect a death sentence for Stewart, who was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. Despite her situation, Stewart remains unbroken and unapologetic and continues to fight for her release.

On August 12, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a new policy for “compassionate release” due to the financial strain of caring for the growing number of elderly, infirm prisoners in the federal system. But the bourgeoisie has a particular hatred for political prisoners who have taken up the cause of the oppressed, and there is no reason to assume Stewart will be included among those who might be deemed to “pose no danger” to society. We continue to fight for Lynne Stewart’s freedom and urge our readers to write her, donate to the defense fund and sign the petition that can be found at lynnestewart.org. Contributions to her legal defense can be sent to: Lynne Stewart Organization, 1070 Dean St., Brooklyn, NY 11216. Letters can be sent to: Lynne Stewart #53504-054, Federal Medical Center, Carswell, PO Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127. Free Lynne Stewart now!

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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1029, 6 September 2013)

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