Civil rights lawyer convicted of aiding terror by passing jailed client's messages to followers

A VETERAN civil rights lawyer was convicted yesterday of smuggling messages of violence from one of her jailed clients - a radical Egyptian sheikh - to his militant followers.

The jury in New York deliberated for 13 days before convicting Lynne Stewart, 65, a left-wing activist known for representing radicals and revolutionaries during her 30-year career. She faces up to 20 years in prison on charges that include conspiracy, giving material support to terrorists and defrauding the US government.

Minutes before the verdict was read, Stewart said she felt "nervous. I'm scared, worried". When she heard the pronouncement, Stewart began shaking her head and wiping her eyes. The courtroom was filled with her supporters, who gasped. She will remain free on bail, but must stay in New York, until she is sentenced on 15 July.

The trial focused attention on the line between zealous advocacy and criminal behaviour by a lawyer. Some defence lawyers saw the case as a government warning to lawyers to tread carefully in terrorism cases.

The jury also convicted a postal worker, Ahmed Sattar, of plotting to "kill and kidnap persons in a foreign country" by publishing an edict urging the killing of Jews and their supporters. A third defendant, Mohamed Yousry, an interpreter, was convicted of providing material support to terrorists. Sattar could face life in prison and Yousry up to 20 years.

Stewart was the lawyer for Omar Abdel-Rahman, a blind cleric who was sentenced to life in prison in 1996 for conspiring to assassinate the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, and destroy several New York landmarks, including the UN building and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels. Stewart's co-defendants also had close ties to Abdel-Rahman.

Prosecutors said that Stewart and the others carried messages between Abdel-Rahman and senior members of a Egyptian-based terrorist organisation, helping to spread Abdel- Rahman's call to kill those who did not subscribe to his extremist interpretation of Islamic law.

At the time, Abdel-Rahman was in solitary confinement in Minnesota under special prison rules to keep him from communicating with anyone except his wife and his lawyers.

Andrew Dember, for the prosecution, argued that Stewart and her co-defendants essentially "broke Abdel-Rahman out of jail [and] made him available to the worst kind of criminal we find in this world - terrorists".

Stewart, who once represented Weather Underground radicals, maintained she was unfairly targeted by overzealous prosecutors. But she also testified that she believed violence was sometimes necessary to achieve justice: "To rid ourselves of the entrenched, voracious type of capitalism that is in this country that perpetuates sexism and racism, I don't think that can come non-violently."

A key part of the prosecution's case was Stewart's release, in 2000, of a statement withdrawing Abdel-Rahman's support for a ceasefire in Egypt by his militant followers. But prosecutors could point to no violence that resulted from the statement.

Videotapes of prison conversations between Stewart and her client were also played for jurors - recordings the defence denounced as an intrusion into attorney-client privilege. (AP)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need