Lynne Stewart was found guilty in 2005 of distributing press releases on behalf of her jailed client, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as the blind sheikh, who is serving a life sentence on terror-related charges. Prosecutors had sought a thirty-year sentence. But Stewart was sentenced to two-and-a-half years after the judge rejected the prosecutors’ argument that she threatened national security and ruled there was no evidence her actions caused any harm.
On Tuesday, a three-judge appeals court panel ordered the trial judge to revoke Stewart’s bond and said she must begin serving her 28-month sentence. The panel rejected Stewart’s claim that she was acting only as a “zealous advocate” for her imprisoned client when she passed messages for him. The appellate ruling said “A genuinely held intent to represent a client ‘zealously’ is not necessarily inconsistent with criminal intent.”
The panel also described Stewart’s 28-month sentence as “strikingly low” and sent the case back to the trial judge to determine whether she deserved a longer prison term. The ruling said Stewart–who is 70 years old–was to surrender to U.S. Marshals immediately, but her lawyers won her an extension until at least 5 p.m. today.
Lynne Stewart joins us now from New York in a national broadcast exclusive interview.
Lynne Stewart, civil rights attorney.