The Washington Post just loves this woman, despite the fact that she is accused of aiding terrorists. Just look at the opening of this story. Why do they love her? Is it her Ashcroft-baiting? Her belief in “armed struggle” (by whom, and for what cause)? Her “left-leaning” activism? Her grandmotherly cuteness? Whatever the case, what if it’s true, and she really was helping out a terrorist plot? Would she seem so cute and cuddly then? (Thanks to stevez.)
NEW YORK — She’s the New York Mets fan with a belief in armed struggle, the pink-faced grandmother who stands accused of helping a jailed terrorist sheik order followers to kill and kidnap in his name.
Lynne Stewart, a proudly radical lawyer, could face 40 years in federal prison if she’s convicted. But she’s in no mood to curl up in a fetal position.
“How could I be happier? I feel like I’ve waited my whole life for this fight,” she told a crowd of supporters at a pretrial fundraiser in a Manhattan Quaker church a few weeks back.
“I say this to John Ashcroft: Bring it on!”
The very public trial of the 64-year-old Stewart — she plans to testify at length and write a Web log throughout — commences this week in U.S. District Court in Manhattan and likely will stretch until autumn. A left-leaning pillar of this city’s boisterous defense bar, Stewart has worked these courtrooms for two decades, representing leftists and mobsters, antiwar demonstrators and dope smugglers. She’s been ranked among the city’s 10 best trial lawyers.
“I love helping a jury cut through the crap,” she said in an interview in her Manhattan law office a few blocks northeast of Ground Zero. “But I can’t be sanguine about having the T-word hung around my neck.”
The federal indictment accuses Stewart and two men — an Arabic translator and a former U.S. postal worker — of aiding a plot to kidnap and perhaps kill people to obtain the release of the imprisoned blind Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence for conspiring to blow up the United Nations, two Hudson River tunnels and Manhattan’s FBI building.
The indictment alleges that while visiting her client in prison, Stewart spoke gibberish in English as a cover while the sheik gave instructions in Arabic to a follower posing as a translator. She then allegedly violated federal regulations by publicly announcing in 2000 that Rahman had withdrawn his support for a cease-fire with the Egyptian government.
Rahman is held in a maximum-security prison in Colorado and is prohibited from contacting his followers.
The federal government’s indictment of Stewart in April 2002 marked the first time that it had brought charges of conspiring to provide material support for terrorist activity against a defense attorney in a terrorism case.