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Civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart sentenced to 10 years for aiding terror client

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] to 10 years in prison, increasing her original sentence of 28 months. Stewart was convicted by a jury in 2005 [JURIST report] on charges of conspiracy, giving material support to terrorists and defrauding the US government for smuggling messages from convicted terrorist Omar Abdel-Rahman [NNBD profile] to members of his militant Islamic Group [CNS backgrounder]. The judgment was upheld [JURIST reports] later that year, resulting in a 28-month prison sentence [JURIST reports]. In re-sentencing Stewart, Judge John Koeltl of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] cited statements she made [NYT report] after her first sentence, which Koeltl said demonstrated her remorselessness. He also found that she had committed perjury during her trial. Koeltl ordered that Stewart, who suffers from breast cancer, be transferred to a federal prison in Connecticut [CNN report] due to her deteriorating health. After the sentencing, Stewart's husband described it as a death sentence.

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] affirmed [JURIST report] Stewart's conviction in 2009, but ordered the district court to reconsider her sentence, finding that the current 28-month sentence was "out of line with the extreme seriousness of her criminal conduct." As part of his conviction, Rahman is subject to Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), which limit his ability to communicate with individuals outside the prison. The court found that despite being a lawyer, Stewart was bound by the SAMs and knowingly and willfully lied about her intentions to comply. The court also found that Stewart provided and concealed material support to the conspiracy to murder persons in a foreign country. Federal prosecutors sought the maximum sentence [JURIST report] of 30 years, saying that Stewart's "egregious, flagrant abuse of her profession ... deserves to be severely punished." In 2007, Stewart was disbarred [JURIST report] in the state of New York after her voluntary resignation was rejected.

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