New York attorney Lynne Stewart awaits sentencing for alleged terrorist activities. Translation: She might get 30 years for issuing a press release on behalf of her client. She will come to West Hartford tonight to talk about the government that did this to her, and what it can do to you.
Left-wing activists view Lynne Stewart’s case as proof that the U.S. government has run amok in its crusade against alleged terrorists.Right-wing activists view Lynne Stewart’s case as proof that terrorists are sheltered and abetted by left-wing activists.Lynne Stewart the person could get 30 years in prison this September.The attorney, long known for representing political radicals like the Black Panthers, took Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman as a client. Sometimes called the “blind” sheik, Abdel Rahman was convicted in 1995 of plotting the World Trade Center bombings two years before. In 2000, after meeting with Abdel Rahman in prison, Stewart transmitted a message to Reuters from the sheik, in which he condemned a cease fire between warring factions in Egypt. The attorney’s action broke a set of government security guidelines she had agreed to in advance.“I knew it was probably a close call ethically,” Stewart said, but believed that it was important for Abdel Rahman’s case to keep him in the news and pressure the government. Stewart thought the government might retaliate by preventing her from meeting with Abdel Rahman any further. And at first, the feds simply made her resign the guidelines. Then they let her continue meeting with her client like normal.“Certainly I never expected an indictment for 30 years,” she said.The indictment didn’t come until two years after Stewart sent the message. Critics of the Bush administration view that delay as a sign that the prosecution is designed less to punish a crime and more to make an example. A jury convicted her last February of a multitude of counts, including conspiracy to defraud the government (for entering into a security agreement she later broke) and making false statements. At 65 years old, a lengthy sentence for Stewart might mean she will never make it out of prison. She has appealed the conviction, though, so it is possible she could remain free pending the outcome of the appeal. “The great unknowns are out there,” she said, adding that she is counting on letters and testimonials to get a light sentence.“I’m not afraid of it,” she said of a long prison term, “but it’s certainly not a pleasant prospect. It’s sort of like using a toilet that hasn’t been cleaned in a long time. You’re not looking forward to it, but you can deal with it.“Stewart will speak at 7 p.m. at the Friends Meeting House, 144 South Quaker Lane, West Hartford.