Lynne Stewart victory

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Jul 23 11:26:50 MDT 2003

NY Times, July 23, 2003
Judge Dismisses Terror Charges Against Lawyer

A federal judge yesterday dismissed charges that the lawyer Lynne F.
Stewart supported terrorism by helping an imprisoned sheik direct
terrorist operations in Egypt. But the judge let stand lesser charges
that she lied to and defrauded the federal government.

Ms. Stewart was accused of helping Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who was
convicted of plotting to blow up New York landmarks, by helping him to
pass messages to the Islamic Group, a terrorist group he once led. The
charges were announced in April 2002 by Attorney General John Ashcroft,
who called the case the first use of a new rule that allows the Bureau
of Prisons to monitor conversations between lawyers and inmates who are
threats to commit "future acts of violence or terrorism."

In his ruling yesterday, Judge John G. Koeltl of United States District
Court called the terrorism counts against Ms. Stewart and a translator
unconstitutionally vague. The judge said that the antiterrorism statute
could not apply to a lawyer doing her job.

"The government fails to explain how a lawyer, acting as an agent of her
client" who is an alleged leader of a terrorist organization "could
avoid being subject to criminal prosecution as a 'quasi-employee,' "
said Judge Koeltl, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994.



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