Monday, October 16, 2006

Civil rights lawyer sentenced to prison

Sheik Omar Abdel Rathman's Mouthpiece, and accomplis finally got what she deseves. An all expesnes paid trip to prison, for passing messages from the Blind Assassin to his henchmen.

NEW YORK - Civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart was sentenced Monday to 28 months in prison on a terrorism charge for helping a client who plotted to blow up New York City landmarks communicate with his followers, a sentence far less than 30 years prosecutors wanted.

Stewart, 67, smiled as the judge announced he would send her to prison for less than 2 1/2 years.

"If you send her to prison, she's going to die. It's as simple as that," defense lawyer Elizabeth Fink had told the judge before the sentence was pronounced.

Stewart, who was treated last year for breast cancer, was convicted in 2005 of providing material support to terrorists. She had released a statement by Omar Abdel-Rahman, a blind Egyptian sheik sentenced to life in prison after he was convicted in plots to blow up five New York landmarks and assassinate Egypt's president.

Prosecutors have called the case a major victory in the war on terrorism. They said Stewart and other defendants carried messages between the sheik and senior members of an Egyptian-based terrorist organization, helping spread Abdel-Rahman's call to kill those who did not subscribe to his extremist interpretation of Islamic law.

In a letter to the judge before her hearing, Stewart proclaimed: "I am not a traitor."

"The end of my career truly is like a sword in my side," She said in court Monday. "Permit me to live out the rest of my life productively, lovingly, righteously."

In a pre-sentence document, prosecutors told U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl that Stewart's "egregious, flagrant abuse of her profession, abuse that amounted to material support to a terrorist group, deserves to be severely punished."

Stewart, in her letter to the judge, said she did not intentionally enter into any plot or conspiracy to aid a terrorist organization. She believes the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks made her behavior intolerable in the eyes of the government and gave it an excuse to make an example out of her.

"The government's characterization of me and what occurred is inaccurate and untrue," she wrote. "It takes unfair advantage of the climate of urgency and hysteria that followed 9/11 and that was relived during the trial. I did not intentionally enter into any plot or conspiracy to aid a terrorist organization."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Dember argued at her sentencing that the case had nothing to with Sept. 11.

"What she was doing was smuggling terrorism messages and smuggling out Abdel-Rahman's responses," Dember said.

About 150 Stewart supporters who could not get inside the capacity-filled courtroom stood outside the courthouse, chanting "Free Lynne, Free Lynne." Some 200 others jammed the hallways outside the courtroom.

"It's not just Lynn Stewart who is a victim, it's the Bill of Rights that's the victim," said Al Dorfman, 72, a retired lawyer who joined the crowd outside.

Stewart was arrested six months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, along with Mohamed Yousry, an Arabic interpreter, and Ahmed Abdel Sattar, a U.S. postal worker. The indictment against them was brought by former Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2002.

Koeltl sentenced Sattar to 24 years in prison. Convicted of conspiracy to kill and kidnap people in a foreign country, he could have been sentenced to life.

"I am not a violent person," Sattar said. "I am a human being. I am an America. I am a Muslim who practices and believes strongly in his religion."

Koeltl said he departed from the federal sentencing guidelines because no one was killed or injured as a result of the crimes and because of Sattar's lack of previous crimes and restrictive prison conditions.

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