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Radical lawyer Lynne Stewart jailed, sentence may be increased

Lynne F. Stewart with husband, Ralph Poynter on left, before surrendering on Thursday. (John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times)

Lynne F. Stewart with husband, Ralph Poynter on left, before surrendering on Thursday. (John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times)

She’s 70, and began serving a 28 month sentence, which could be increased to 30 years. She was also disbarred after passing the following message from her client to a group designated as terrorist.

“I [Omar Abdel-Rahman] am not withdrawing my support of the cease-fire, I am merely questioning it and I am urging you, who are on the ground there to discuss it and to include everyone in your discussions as we always have done.”

According to Judge Koeltle, “A rational jury could have inferred that, by relaying a statement withdrawing support for a cessation of violence by an influential, pro-violence leader of a terrorist group, Stewart knew that she was providing support to those within the IG who sought to return to violence.

Stewart has not disputed passing the message and was not prosecuted under the Clinton Administration. But once Bush took power, the Attorney-General Ashcroft did prosecute. What she did was stupid, maybe beyond stupid. And now an appellate court has ruled her sentence was “breathtakingly low” and sent the case to the trial judge to determine if a longer sentence is deserved.

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