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Lynne Stewart Needs Our Help

May 2, 2013



My family and friends,

I have VERY serious and important information to share with you, and literally, a life saving request — task to ask of each of you.

My friend, our friend and sister, Lynne Stewart, is dying in a federal prison in Texas.  I believe all of you are generally aware that Lynne was convicted under the infamous ‘Patriot Act,’ for too vigorously defending her (Court appointed) client, Sheik Omar Rahman.  She initially was given a 28 month sentence.  The government appealed and her sentence was increased to 10 years.  Just before Lynne went to prison, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  While still on bail, she successfully fought the cancer.  But now, in the 4th year of her sentence, her cancer has come back and has spread to her lungs and back.  She presently has ‘stage 4’ breast cancer.

Lynne is a wonderful person, a 73 year old woman, mother, grandmother, a fierce former Human Rights and criminal lawyer.

Under federal law, the 1984 Sentencing Act, courts can reduce sentences for “extraordinary and compelling” reasons such as terminal illness.

Lynne Stewart must be released from prison so she can get back to good quality, non-prison, healthcare in NY City, where she fought back her initial breast cancer.  And back to the support, care and love of her family so she at least has a chance to fight her illness.

Federal law allows for this, but the Bureau of Prisons, and its’ boss the Justice Department, and the President, Barak Obama, must hear the voice of the people, asking and demanding that Lynne Stewart be released.  Our voices in the thousands and tens of thousands must and can reach all the way up to the White House.

The task is really simple: PLEASE NOW go to:   and sign the petition asking that she be given medical and compassionate release.  THEN PLEASE, pass this information and message on, along with your own thought and note, to EVERYONE on your email/contact lists.  Ask each and everyone of your people to also sign the Petition for Lynne Stewart’s Compassionate Release.  And ALSO ask all of your friends/contacts to send this message on to everyone on their lists, along with their own request that these people also send the message on to everyone on their respective lists.

This, my friends, is a doable thing.  It just takes each of us a little time to sign the petition and send on the message.  We can save a life.  We can do a good thing.  Please, be part of this noble, positive and crucial life saving effort.

Lynne is a long time friend of mine.  I love her like a sister, comrade and friend.  She needs our help — thanks for doing the right thing.

A cri de coeur from Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the persecution of Lynne Stewart

Lynne Stewart is renowned throughout the United States as a criminal defense lawyer who, for over 30 years, defended the poor, the disadvantaged and those targeted by the police and the State.

Such has been her reputation as a fearless lawyer ready to challenge those in power that judges assigned her routinely to act for defendants whom no attorney was willing to represent.

Now, Lynne Stewart needs our urgent help or she may die in prison.

In 1995, Lynne Stewart was appointed by a federal court to represent the blind Egyptian cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who was accused of conspiring to blow up New York landmarks. She became co-counsel with former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and renowned civil liberties attorney Abdeen Jabaar.

Despite Lynne Stewart having marshaled evidence demonstrating the innocence of her client, and pointing indisputably to the hand of the government in the plots attributed to her client, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment plus 65 years!

Special Administrative Measures (SAMS) were imposed, violating first, fifth and sixth amendment rights of defendants and attorneys alike.

These measures placed severe restrictions on any communication of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman communication with the outside world.

On April 9, 2002, Attorney General Ashcroft made an unprecedented appearance on the Late Night Show of David Letterman, a nationally viewed entertainment talk-show, to announce that the Justice Department was prosecutIng Lynne Stewart for providing “material aid to a terrorist organization”.

This “material aid” was her own person and her function as defense attorney. The “material aid” consisted of a Press Release conveying the views of the Sheikh and given to a Reuter’s correspondent – an action protected by the first amendment and the free speech rights of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and Lynne Stewart alike.

The Justice Department of George Bush and of Barack Obama prosecuted Lynne Stewart and demanded 30 years in prison. This attack upon due process and basic democratic rights was aimed at every attorney in the United States. The intent was and remains to destroy democratic rights and protections that date to the Magna Carta.

Lynne Stewart was railroaded to prison in a show trial evocative of the era of Joseph Stalin. Broad public protest caused presiding Judge John Koetl to declare Lynne Stewart  “an asset to the nation” while sentencing her to 28 months in federal prison.

Pressed by the Justice Department, the Appellate Court, breaking precedent, directed Judge Koetl to increase her sentence drastically, to revoke her bail and remand her to prison despite the fact that Lynne Stewart had the right to appeal her conviction to the Supreme Court.

Judge Koetl, yielding to this immense pressure, increased his original 28 month sentence to ten years. This has become, effectively, a death sentence for Lynne Stewart. Urgent surgery was delayed 18 months by the prison authorities. Her breast cancer, in remission before imprisonment, metastasized and spread to her lymph nodes, bones and lungs.

For every person of conscience, there is no time to lose. We must mobilize world opinion to stop the judicial and political murder of Lynne Stewart, an ominous measure of the mass repression in preparation for working people and the oppressed.

The campaign to save the life of Lynne Stewart is a first line of defense against a ruling class rapidly destroying the rights obtained through generations of struggle as a ruthless system prepares to subjugate us all.



Lynne Stewart has devoted her life to the oppressed – a constant advocate for the countless many deprived in the United States of their freedom and their rights.

Unjustly charged and convicted for the “crime” of providing her client with a fearless defense, the prosecution of Lynne Stewart is an assault upon the basic freedoms of us all.

After years of post-conviction freedom, her bail was revoked arbitrarily and her imprisonment ordered, precluding surgery she had scheduled in a major New York hospital.

The sinister meaning of the relentless persecution of Lynne Stewart is unmistakably clear. Given her age and precarious health, the ten-year sentence she is serving is a virtual death sentence.

Since her imprisonment in the Federal Prison in Carswell, Texas her urgent need for surgery was delayed 18 months – so long, that the operating physician pronounced the condition as “the worst he had seen.”

Now, breast cancer, which had been in remission prior to her imprisonment, has reached Stage Four. It has appeared in her lymph nodes, on her shoulder, in her bones and her lungs.

Her daughter, a physician, has sounded the alarm: “Under the best of circumstances, Lynne would be in a battle of the most serious consequences with dangerous odds. With cancer and cancer treatment, the complications can be as debilitating and as dangerous as the cancer itself.”

In her current setting, where trips to physicians involve attempting to walk with 10 pounds of shackles on her wrists and ankles, with connecting chains, Lynne Stewart has lacked ready access to physicians and specialists under conditions compatible with medical success.

It can take weeks to see a medical provider in prison conditions. It can take weeks to report physical changes and learn the results of treatment; and when held in the hospital, Lynne has been shackled, wrist and ankle, to the bed.

This medieval “shackling” has little to do with any appropriate prison control. She is obviously not an escape risk.

We demand abolition of this practice for all prisoners, let alone those facing surgery and the urgent necessity of care and recovery.

It amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of human rights.

There is immediate remedy available for Lynne Stewart. Under the 1984 Sentencing Act, after a prisoner request, the Bureau of Prisons can file a motion with the Court to reduce sentences “for extraordinary and compelling reasons.” Life threatening illness is foremost among these and Lynne Stewart meets every rational and humane criterion for compassionate release.

To misconstrue the gravamen of this compassionate release by conditioning such upon being at death’s door – released, if at all, solely to die – is a cruel mockery converting a prison sentence, wholly undeserved, into a death sentence.

The New York Times, in an editorial (2/12), has excoriated the Bureau of Prisons for their restrictive crippling of this program. In a 20-year period, the Bureau released a scant 492 persons – an average of 24 a year out of a population that exceeds 220 000.

We cry out against the bureaucratic murder of Lynne Stewart.

We demand Lynne Stewart’s immediate release to receive urgent medical care in a supportive environment indispensable to the prospect of her survival and call upon the Bureau of Prisons to act immediately.

If Lynne’s original sentence of 28 months had not been unreasonably, punitively increased to 10 years, she would be home now — where her medical care would be by her choice and where those who love her best would care for her. Her isolation from this loving care would end.

Prevent this cruelty to Lynne Stewart whose lifelong commitment to justice is now a struggle for her life.

Free Lynne Stewart Now!

Ralph Poynter and Family

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