Lynne Stewart, a long-time defender of the poor and oppressed members of the working class of New York City, who has often been at the forefront of cases brought against working-class political activists by the racist, worker-hating “Justice” system of the NY city, NY state and US national governments, who is in jail for the “crime” of providing a stalwart defense of a man accused of “terrorism” had her latest appeal rejected by the US Second Court of Appeals on June 28, 2012.
Stewart is accused of “conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism” – an Orwellian construct if ever there was one! – and of “conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Government”. She, and her two co-workers – interpreter Mohamed Yousry and paralegal Ahmed Abdel Satter – were accused of these “crimes” while (typically for Stewart) working legal defense for “the Blind Sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman, who is accused by the US Government of plotting to blow up bridges and who knows what else in New York City.
In a city full of lawyers, no one rushed forward to provide the highly unpopular Sheik Rahman with legal counsel, which he is entitled to as is anyone else accused of a crime here in the United States. Courageously, Lynne Stewart stepped forward to undertake this difficult and thankless task.
The US Government claims that while Stewart was traveling to and from the jail in which her client was being held, she and her two co-workers transported secret messages from the Sheik to his followers in the Middle East. Stewart asserts that she did no such thing – she simply helped her client – who was being held, illegally, completely incommunicado, unable to have any contact with his family and supporters at the time – relay messages to and from his family. judge in the trial, at the behest of Federal prosecutors whose “case” against Rahman is shaky, to say the least, leapt at this opportunity to attack the Sheik’s legal team and to effectively deny him any legal counsel at all in a trial in which he could, conceivably face life in prison, or even the death penalty. The had Stewart, Yousry and Satter arrested on these flimsy charges and jailed. Later, Stewart was sentenced to 28 months in prison – in what can only be described fairly as a punishment for her daring to provide Rahman with any serious legal defense at all.
However, the incoming Obama Administration – who had just agreed NOT to prosecute any members of the Bush Administration for their many war crimes and for torturing “terror” suspects at Guantanamo Bay and around the world at the infamous CIA “Black Sites – came forward to demand that Stewart’s sentence be INCREASED – from 28 to 120 months. Their appeal of the original sentence was granted and Stewart’s sentence was quadrupled! For Stewart, who is over 70 years old and suffers from cancer and a number of other health ailments, this means, essentially, a life sentence!
Behold the Democrats! “Friends of Labor”! The “Lesser of Two Evils”!
In late June, Stewart’s latest appeal of this outrageous attack on the Constitutional rights of defendants to counsel of their own choosing, and on lawyers to carry out their responsibilities to their clients no matter how “unpopular” those clients may be was heard and was denied by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Stweart has made the following statement from jail since the verdict came in:
“The past week has confronted me with changes both bitter and sweet and I want to share with all of you my outlook. On the “sweet” side (because as progressive leftists, we always try to assuage the bitter !) the best and most important news is that I have had my long awaited surgery, more problematic than the Doctor expected, spent a few days in hospital in Fort Worth and at Carswell prison and am in a slow recovery back in my unit. I have been given a walker to insure that I don’t have a fall as the operation left me anemic and I sometimes am a little dizzy and weak…BUT THE GREAT THING IS THAT I AM CURED AND AM FUNCTIONING NORMALLY, with a rebuilt bladder and an absence of discomfort from a distended uterus. (I know that this is more information than many of you want — my male supporters particularly !!!) I feel better and stronger every day and am, of course, determined to deal with healing naturally. I am not here to praise the great care I received ( still had my feet shackled, belly chained and cuffed ; no contact with anyone who might be worrying about me etc. from the Bureau of Prisons(I can tell plenty of horror stories about the care of the women in here) but I have come through and am ready to soon resume STRUGGLE. Ralph paid me an unscheduled visit this weekend gave me a real boost and will be more than happy to report further on this positive health development !!!
“THAT SAID, the bitter occurrence was of course, the snide and unsubstantiated opinion of the Second Circuit (posted on my website) denying any relief from the draconian sentence change imposed the second time around. A blow, but not mortal. We will do an appeal to all of the Judges of the Second Circuit sitting en banc, to reverse. Hopefully and we always hope, those Judges will take a different viewpoint. In reading the opinion there is a hypocritical view expressed that the first Judge Koeltl sentence and opinion is all wrong but the second sentence and opinion (as orchestrated by their remand) was all right. Will the real decision maker please stand up?? Also, the moral underpinning of their entire prosecution is now more questionable with the newly elected President of Egypt demanding the return of my “terrorist” client Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. If he is a hero of the Arab Spring than my aid was a positive thing –yes??? Certainly not the criminal support the US government gave to the 40 year Dictator Mubarak !!!
“In any event, we also go forward after the enbanc to the next ‘legal’ stage of the case…the certiorari petition for my entire case to the United States Supreme Court. As should be remembered, from that April day in 2002 when Attorney General Ashcroft rode into NY and announced a “significant arrest and indictment”, this is the case that has the Bill of Rights affronted on almost every issue. As my colleague and brother, Attorney Michael Smith said to me then; there are First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth Amendment violation and that’s just for starters. We are going to confront the Government and the Supremes and hopefully raise the awareness of the legal and the community at large to the terrible infringements and danger to all if my case is not reversed. Back Now to the fundamentals and as Ralph says—-‘We’ve got them right where we want them’!! We fight on.
“In closing I have to say that any weakness in my body should not be mistaken for a weakness in my spirit or will. When I signed on for this struggle back in 1962,to rescue my country and all its people from the powers that would ruin, twist and destroy us all, it wasn’t for a week or a day but always–until we win. I welcome your support and love.”
The Independent Workers Party calls on all working people to support the campaign to free Lynne Stewart (we do not have information as to the status of her two co-defendants; we will try to get information on their cases as well). For more information, check out the “Justice for Lynne Stewart” website.
Thanks to the Workers Vanguard website for providing us with this update on the Stewart case.