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Defend attorney Lynne Stewart, imprisoned for defending political prisoners

In a U.S. government move to try to intimidate and silence lawyers from taking on the cases of those struggling for liberation and justice, New York attorney Lynne Stewart, 70 years old, was jailed on November 17, 2009.

For 30 years Stewart was one of the few U.S. lawyers who represented African, Arab and oppressed people as well as other progressive activists in political cases.

Stewart could have made money and retired in comfort like the vast majority of lawyers in this country.

Instead, over the years Stewart took on political cases, representing members of the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army and many others.

Outspoken, courageous and a supporter of the Uhuru Movement, the New York-based attorney not only defended those resisting oppression, she usually won.

After nearly three years of battling her 2002 indictment under the U.S. Antiterrorism Act, Stewart was convicted in 2005 of “aiding and abetting” her client, the Egyptian Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, whom the imperialist U.S. government has labeled a “terrorist.”

Other charges against Stewart included “conspiring to defraud the United States; conspiring to provide and conceal material support to terrorist activity; providing and concealing material support to terrorist activity and two counts of making false statements.”

Stewart was given a 28-month sentence in October 2006. She was out on bail pending appeal until November 17, when the court rejected her appeal and revoked her bail, ordering her to “surrender forthwith.”

Stewart targeted for her political stand

Stewart was also accused of violating U.S. Bureau of Prisons Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) regulations imposed by former Attorney General John Ashcroft.

SAMs allow the Department of Justice to conduct surveillance on attorneys’ visits with their clients in federal custody.

SAMs were supposedly created “for the purpose of deterring future acts of violence or terrorism” by a U.S. government built on terror, including the enslavement of African people, the genocide of the Indigenous people and the ongoing war and brutality against Arab people.

Stewart was part of Rahman’s court appointed legal team. Rahman is serving a life sentence in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing of the World Trade Center.

According to a November 22, 2009 article by Stephan Lendman, “Lynne Stewart: Heroic Human Rights Lawyer Jailed,” (sjlendman.blogspot.com) the U.S. government’s case against Rahman “wasn’t about alleged crimes.

“It reflected his affiliations and anti-western views. Rahman was connected to the Egyptian-based Al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya—a 1997 U.S. State Department designated ‘foreign terrorist organization.’

“In the 1980s, however, [Rahman] helped the CIA recruit Mujahadeen fighters against the Soviets in Afghanistan. For his work, he got a U.S. visa, green card, and State Department-CIA protection as long as he was valued. When valued no longer he was targeted along with Stewart.”

Stewart won acquittal for Larry Davis

One of Lynne Stewart’s most famous legal victories was the acquittal of Larry Davis, accused of killing six white policemen in the Bronx in 1986.

Davis fled after the shootout and eluded capture by hiding in the African community for the next 17 days.

Davis was finally arrested by the police in a Bronx apartment and as he was being taken into custody, according to the New York Times, tenants in the neighborhood “threw open their windows and erupted into cheers: ‘ Lar-ry! Lar-ry!

Stewart, along with the late civil rights lawyer William Kunstler, won this case defending Davis who, according attorney Ron Kuby “was a symbol of resistance in a dangerous and racially polarized city where white cops could — and did — kill black people with impunity.”

Currently, Lynne Stewart is being held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan.

The government is challenging her 28-month sentence, threatening her with many additional years in prison.

Lynne had surgery for breast cancer and now faces other health problems.

In January, Lynne was sent to the hospital for a rapid heartbeat. Now, back at MCC, she has had her rights to email and make phone calls rescinded, because she asked another inmate to call Stewart’s husband Ralph to inform him she was being taken to the hospital.

Lynne’s website www.lynnestewart.org states that her formal sentencing hearing is set for April 22, 2010.

Write letters of support

Stewart’s defense committee is calling for supporters to write letters to the judge and send them to the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee, because the letters must be presented through Stewart’s attorneys.

Send the letters to 350 Broadway, Suite 700, New York, NY 10013.

The website states:

“Address the letter to: Honorable John G. Koeltl, United States District Judge, Southern District of New York, 500 Pearl Street, New York, NY 10007 - BUT MAIL TO LSDC - NOT directly to the Judge. We will accumulate the letters for the attorneys who will then submit them to the Judge.”

You can write to Lynne Stewart

#53504-054
MCC-NY
150 Park Row
New York, NY 10007

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