The Persecution of Lynne Stewart

[Lynne Stewart, a lifelong activist and people’s lawyer-advocate, is a Federal political prisoner serving a ten year sentence in a Texas prison.  73 years old, she is suffering from terminal (stage 4) cancer–and not receiving the medical care she needs.  Her continued incarceration is nothing but medical torture.  We urge all to join thousands in demanding her release from prison, and in signing the petition at http://www.change.org/petitions/petition-to-free-lynne-stewart-save-her-life-release-her-now-2 — Frontlines ed.]

Lynne Stewart--people's lawyer and advocate, political prisoner, victim of medical torture

Lynne Stewart–people’s lawyer-advocate, political prisoner, victim of medical torture

“We go out to stop police brutality -To rescue the imprisoned -To change the rules for those who have never ever been able to get to the starting line much less run the race, because of color, physical condition, gender, mental impairment,” she said. “We go forth to preserve the air and land and water and sky and all the beasts that crawl and fly. We go forth to safeguard the right to speak and write, to join; to learn, to rest safe at home, to be secure, fed, healthy, sheltered, loved and loving, to be at peace with ones identity.”   —  Lynne Stewart

April 21, 2013

By Chris Hedges

Lynne Stewart, in the vindictive and hysterical world of the war on terror, is one of its martyrs. A 73-year-old lawyer who spent her life defending the poor, the marginalized and the despised, including blind cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, she fell afoul of the state apparatus because she dared to demand justice rather than acquiesce to state sponsored witch hunts. And now, with stage 4 cancer that has metastasized, spreading to her lymph nodes, shoulder, bones and lungs, creating a grave threat to her life, she sits in a prison cell at the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, where she is serving a 10-year sentence. Stewart’s family is pleading with the state for “compassionate release” and numerous international human rights campaigners, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have signed a petition calling for her to be freed on medical grounds. It is not only a crime in the U.S. to be poor, to be a Muslim, to openly condemn the crimes committed in our name in the Muslim world, but to defend those who do. And the near total collapse of our judicial system, wrecked in the name of national security and “the war on terror,” is encapsulated in the saga of this courageous attorney—now disbarred because of her conviction.

“I hope that my imprisonment sends the wake up call that the government is prepared to imprison lawyers who do not conduct legal representation in a manner the government has ordained,” she told me when I reached her through email in prison. “My career of 30 plus years has always been client centered. My clients and I decided on the best legal course, without the interference of the government. Ethics require that the defense lawyer DEFEND, get the client off. We have no obligation to obey [the] ‘rules’ government lays down.

“I believe that since 9/11 the government has pursued Muslims with an ever heavier hand,” she wrote, all messages to her and from her being vetted by prison authorities. “However, cases such as the Sheikh’s in 1995 amply demonstrate that Muslims had been targeted even earlier as the new ENEMY—always suspect, always guilty. After 9/11, we discovered that the government prosecutors were ordered to try and get Osama Bin Laden into EVERY Muslim prosecution inducing in American Juries a Pavlovian response. Is it as bad as lynching and the Scottsboro Boys and the Pursuit of Black Panthers? Not as of yet, but getting close and of course the incipient racism that that colors—pun?—every action in the U.S. is ever present in these prosecutions.” Continue reading

Message from People’s Lawyer Lynne Stewart on the FBI raids

 

Lynne Stewart, people's lawyer sentenced to 10 years in prison for helping a Muslim political prisoner exercise his right to free speech

Message to the Baltimore Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild from Lynne Stewart

MY FRIENDS, COLLEAGUES, BROTHERS, AND SISTERS:

My message to you today is neither upbeat nor optimistic. We are living in dangerous times for our movement and it is getting worse as this insatiable government flexes the law to enable its nets to ensnare more people and further shred the body politic.

This past week’s FBI raids on the support groups for various political causes, international, anti-imperialist, peace, animal rights–make it appear that anyone who opposes government policy and speaks or acts on behalf of that belief is now to be denoted a Terrorist and have his privacy invaded or be subjected to a subpoena or potential arrest. There has been a robust response from the movement with rallies and protests in many cities, the largest in Chicago and Minneapolis, where the most widespread raids occurred.

This is most excellent but unfortunately it may be too little too late as the law enforcement community licks its chops at the prospect of distracting, occupying and ultimately destroying all vestiges of resistance in this country.

Once when I spoke I said that I thought I thought my case was the canary in the mine shaft. A test of the expansion of the Law on Material Support of Terrorism. If they can label me (and) convict me behind their smokescreen of fear and intimidation and put me behind bars for a lengthy time, then they are ready to do it to the movement, to all of us. As some General said of Vietnam, “It’s not much of a war but it’s all {they} got.”

We too must ready ourselves to defend not only our clients, who will come to us victimized by this outrageous, overreaching assault, but also ourselves as attorneys. As shown in my case, they will not be readily distinguished between the two. It is the worst of times and we must ready ourselves for the onslaught. Continue reading