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Former civil rights lawyer released from US prison

Former civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] was released from prison on Tuesday after a federal judge ordered the "compassionate release." Judge John Koeltl granted the motion [JURIST report] after it was filed Tuesday, finding that Stewart's terminal health condition qualified her for "compassionate release." Stewart was released [AP report] from Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, and arrived in New York Wednesday afternoon, where she was greeted by supporters and relatives. 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 organization, Islamic Group [CNS backgrounder].

Last year, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a 10-year prison sentence [JURIST report] for Stewart. Stewart's sentence was increased [JURIST report] to 10 years from 28 months in 2011 after a federal judge found that she had shown no remorse for her crimes. The Second Circuit 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." Federal prosecutors sought the maximum sentence [JURIST report] of 30 years for Stewart, saying that her "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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