Skip to comments.Lawyer Faces New Terror-Related Charges
Posted on 11/20/2003 1:05:14 AM PST by sarcasm
ederal prosecutors filed new charges yesterday against the defense lawyer Lynne F. Stewart, who had succeeded in getting a federal judge to dismiss earlier charges that she had helped one of her clients, a convicted terrorist, pass messages from prison.
The new charges accuse Ms. Stewart of conspiring to provide material support with a co-defendant, Mohammed Yousry, a translator, to the same client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence in prison after being convicted of plotting to blow up New York landmarks. Ms. Stewart and Mr. Yousry are also charged with concealing their support for the sheik.
When Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the original charges in 2002, he called it the first use of a rule allowing the Bureau of Prisons to monitor conversations between lawyers and inmates who are threats to commit "future acts of violence or terrorism." The judge who dismissed the charges in July found them to be constitutionally vague.
The new charges are based on a different legal foundation and should not face the same constitutional concerns as the original charges, according to a statement issued by James B. Comey, the United States attorney in Manhattan.
If convicted, Ms. Stewart and Mr. Yousry could each face 5 to 15 years in prison.
Mr. Ashcroft said in a statement, "The government's decision to bring additional charges against the defendants in this case is justified by the evidence we obtained during our investigation, and reflects the seriousness of the conduct allegedly engaged in by the defendants."
In a telephone interview, Ms. Stewart said she was perturbed.
"I'm just as emphatically not guilty as I was a year and a half ago," she said. "We're going to keep on keeping on."
She said the filing of new charges "seems like a pretty vindictive act on the part of the government."
The government claims that during a prison visit in May 2000, Mr. Abdel Rahman dictated letters to Mr. Yousry that gave instructions intended for a terrorist group while Ms. Stewart distracted the guards. "At one point," according to prosecutors, "Stewart and Yousry explicitly discussed the fact that the guards were patrolling close to the prison conference room and might notice that Stewart was not involved in the conversation between Yousry and Abdel Rahman." Ms. Stewart pretended to be part of the conversation "by making extraneous comments such as `chocolate' and `heart attack,' " the prosecutors said.
Whenever I see a picture of Lynne Stewart, I can't help but think of my memory of an attorney that was caught on camera as she hurried through the airport after having -- almost literally -- "parachuted into" (I think it was) Colorado to help out with (or maybe lead) the left's attack on some voter referendum that had just been approved in a general election.
This person -- the one in Colorado, I mean -- well, she looked just like Terry Gross of National Public Radio. She didn't smile, and made it clear she would not talk to the press, even to the extent of saying a single word other than "no comment." She was all business.
I remember thinking "this woman is the real thing... she is one of the real inside operators, the real brains behind the left, that are called in when price is no object to do what needs to be done by any means necessary."
I don't remember her name, and I barely remember her face, and the fact that, like Lynne Stuart, her appearance... how shall I put this...
Her appearance was a message. Let's leave it at that.
Anyway, the referendum was defeated. The will of the people of Colorado was thwarted.
Can anyone remember what this referendum was about? All I'm sure of is that it was a very big win for the right. It may have concerned the cutoff of state aid for illegal immigrants.
It was something that the left felt it had to win at all costs, and they sent their best in to get the job done.