The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 78/No. 2      January 20, 2014

Framed-up, jailed lawyer Lynne Stewart
wins release
(front page)
NEW YORK — Lynne Stewart was welcomed home by dozens of supporters and family members at LaGuardia Airport in New York City New Year’s Day, a day after Judge John Koeltl finally accepted her request for “compassionate release” due to terminal cancer.

“Without shackles and without a belly chain and without cuffs on, felt pretty good,” Stewart told Amy Goodman of the “Democracy Now” radio show and those gathered in the terminal.

“I won’t forget them,” Stewart said of fellow inmates at the Carswell Federal Medical Center prison in Fort Worth, Texas. “That’s where I’m headed. I’m going to work for women prisoners’ groups and for political prisoners.”

Stewart, 74, was framed up for releasing a statement to the press in 2005 on behalf of her client Omar Abdel-Rahman, an Egyptian cleric convicted of conspiring to blow up the United Nations and other landmarks here. Stewart, the government contends, violated Special Administrative Measures imposed on Abdel-Rahman that were designed to cut him off from contact with the outside world. Stewart was convicted of “providing material support to a terrorist organization” and spent four years and six weeks of a 10-year sentence behind bars.

Stewart was a criminal defense lawyer who often took cases other attorneys shunned for political and career reasons and defended working people who could not afford typical lawyers’ fees.

In June last year the Bureau of Prisons rejected her request for release as did Judge Koeltl in August.

“We organized political people and others who were motivated by civility and compassion — anyone who thought she should be free,” Ralph Poynter, Stewart’s husband and leader of the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee, said in a Jan. 3 phone interview. “After we were turned down the second time for compassionate release, we redoubled our efforts.”

“They don’t allow ‘browsing’ in the women’s prison library,” Stewart said when asked about prison conditions and her relations with other inmates. “So I had my own lending library. Friends would come by and ask for a good book. They just loved them.”

A lot of prisoners followed the death of Nelson Mandela, Stewart said. “I read two articles in the Militant, the speech by Mandela in Cuba in 1991 on the meaning of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale and another article in the same issue on Cuito Cuanavale’s meaning to the fight in South Africa. I made photocopies of those two articles and distributed them.”

“This is a victory,” Stewart said of her release before turning her attention to the ongoing fights to release other political prisoners. “Leonard Peltier should walk out the gate. The Cuban Five should walk out the gate. I am not the only one.”
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‘Militant’ held up in Florida jail over ‘miscommunication’
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