Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Terrorist Sheik's Lawyer Gets 28-Month Sentence, Far Less Than 30 Years Prosecutors Wanted

Attorney Lynne Stewart, who's defended many radical and unpopular clients in her career, was sentenced yesterday (October 16th) to two-and-a-half years behind bars for helping a jailed terrorist sheik communicate with his followers. Prosecutors had sought a 30-year sentence for Stewart, but U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl departed from the federal guidelines that called for that long term, citing the 67-year-old attorney's more than 30 years of representing poor, disadvantaged and unpopular clients. Koeltl said, "Ms. Stewart performed a public service, not only to her clients, but to the nation." At the same time, Koeltl didn't downplay the crimes, calling them quote, "extraordinarily severe criminal conduct." The judge said Stewart could remain free while she appeals.

A happy Stewart spoke to her supporters and journalists outside the court, saying, "You get time off for good behavior usually at the end of your prison term. I got it at the beginning." Over the decades, Stewart, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, has defended Black Panthers, anti-war radicals, a former mob hit man, and a man accused of trying to kill nine police officers, among other controversial clients.

Stewart was convicted last year of providing material support to terrorists. Prosecutors said that Stewart and other defendants carried messages between jailed blind sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and top members of a terrorist organization based in Egypt, helped spread his call to kill those who don't believe in his extremist views. Stewart had also released a statement issued by Abdel-Rahman, who is serving a life sentence for plotting to blow up five New York City landmarks and assassinate Egypt's president. In a letter to the judge, Stewart said she didn't intentionally enter into any conspiracy to help a terrorist organization, declaring, "I am not a traitor."

Lynne Stewart should be executed for treason!

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