Lynne Stewart, who is either a "prominent civil rights attorney" or a "terror lawyer," depending on who you read, has been granted a compassionate release from prison after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Stewart was serving a 10-year sentence for passing messages from her client, Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted of planning terrorist acts in 1995 and sentenced to life in prison, to his followers. Stewart was initially sentenced to 28 months in jail, but the same judge who ordered her release yesterday bumped that up to 10 years after he found she had lied under oath during her trial.
Stewart was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. Her lawyers argued that she be released on compassionate grounds when it became terminal, but a judge refused to do so in August because the Bureau of Prisons had not requested the release.
Yesterday, the bureau got around to filing the request, and the judge granted it. She was released last night and arrived in New York City today:
In a statement, Stewart said: "I can't stop crying tears of Joy !! I can't stop thinking of all the marvelous people worldwide who made this happen ..you know because each of you played an integral role."
Before her felony conviction led to her disbarment, Stewart made a career out of defending the clients no one else wanted: David Gilbert, Weather Underground member convicted of three murders; Willie Holder, Black Panther member convicted of hijacking an airplane; Ahmad Muhammad Ajaj, convicted of participating in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; several men accused of murder or attempted murder of NYPD officers; and Abdel-Rahman.
Stewart, 74, has fewer than 18 months to live (and four months fewer than she did in August). In a letter to the judge last summer, the New York Times reported, she said she wanted to die "where all is familiar -- in a word, home" and not jail, a "strange and loveless place."