Long sentence urged for rights lawyer convicted of helping terror client

Long sentence urged for rights lawyer convicted of helping terror client

[JURIST] Federal prosecutors have asked that a judge sentence civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart [defense website] to 30 years in prison, saying that Stewart's "egregious, flagrant abuse of her profession … deserves to be severely punished." Stewart was convicted [JURIST report; JURIST video] of conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists [18 USC 2339A text] for helping imprisoned Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman [Wikipedia profile] communicate with his terrorist followers. Stewart was also convicted of defrauding the government for violating rules that had been put in place to prevent Abdel-Rahman from communicating with the outside world following his 1995 conviction of seditious conspiracy for plotting to blow up several New York city landmarks. A federal judge upheld Stewart's conviction [JURIST report] late last year, dismissing her arguments that Abdel-Rahman was engaging in protected speech when he expressed opinions about an Egyptian ceasefire which Stewart passed along in a press release.

In court documents filed last week, prosecutors wrote that Stewart's conduct reflected "a pattern of purposeful and willful conduct, in which she played a central role in repeated fraudulent attempts to pass messages to and from Abdel-Rahman." Stewart's lawyers have said that the judge should consider Stewart's long record of working on behalf of indigent clients and that a harsh sentence should be avoided as it will discourage other lawyers from defending notorious clients. A sentencing hearing in the case is scheduled for October 16. AP has more.