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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Designer / Design Director

£38000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B content marketing agen...

Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn