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‘Our sister Lynne Stewart is dying’

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Ralph Poynter at the White House
Lynne Stewart’s husband Ralph Poynter (c) at the White House this week

On Wednesday night at Cooper Union in New York, hundreds gathered to honor former intelligence analyst Edward Snowden’s courageous acts, and emcee Debra Sweet brought up the situation of Lynne Stewart, the radical human rights lawyer now serving a ten-year sentence in Texas on charges that she aided terrorists.

Lynne Stewart is dying. Our sister Lynne Stewart is dying. You all know who she is. Her husband is in front of the White House– Ralph Poynter, carrying out a protest.

Stewart, 73, is suffering from advanced cancer; and the prison she is in cannot treat her appropriately. The warden has reportedly authorized her release nearly two months ago, but federal higher-ups are not acting on the recommendation.

Many have appealed for her compassionate release, including Dick Gregory and others outside the Bureau of Prisons three days ago, and the Lawyers Rights Watch of Canada, which writes:

The Warden’s recommendation of 26 April 2013 and documentation have been fully vetted by the Federal Bureau of Prison. Urgently needed medical treatment arranged at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York will begin immediately on Ms Stewart’s release.

Inexcusable delays, denials and inappropriate delivery of medical treatment while in prison have worsening Ms Stewart’s health to the point where further delay may result in death

Friends have undertaken another protest at the White House beginning Monday. From their flyer

Lynne Stewart’s health is in rapid decline. We must take collective action creating a highly public presence in Washington, D.C.

A Compassionate Release was recommended months ago by Warden Jody R. Upton, under whose watch Lynne has been incarcerated at Carswell Federal Prison. Compassionate Release papers remain sitting on the desk of Director, Charles E. Samuels, Jr. of the Federal Bureau of Prisons waiting to be signed.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons is under the political leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama.

Lynne’s life hangs in the balance.

What will we do?

On Monday, June 24, 2013 at the White House, we will gather to continue “a long vigil for a long struggle” calling for Lynne Stewart’s release. It is urgent that we stand along side Ralph Poynter, Lynne Stewart’s husband, demanding that Lynne Stewart be granted Compassionate Release before it is too late. Reclaim Solidarity… Imagine Justice.


Gathering Daily from June 24, 2013 Onward 9:00 am The White House Washington, D.C. Travel assistance is available. Please RSVP and spread the word on Facebook.

For more information write to: [email protected]

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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18 Responses

  1. Ecru on June 21, 2013, 1:58 pm

    So basically Obama’s figured out how to enact a death sentence without upsetting his fan base.

  2. Eva Smagacz on June 21, 2013, 2:20 pm

    Do not make mistake about it: Lynne Stewart is a clear warning to all intellectuals and professionals that throwing your weight behind the enemies of the people ( aka “Terrorists” ) have real consequences, and regardless of whoever you are can land you in prison with no access to humane pain control.

    She is not an Arab, she is an “Arab-lover”. Which is why she is being “disappeared” in plain sight not by South American junta but by USA.

    • tokyobk on June 21, 2013, 10:34 pm

      She is not an Arab lover and not being prosecuted of loving Arabs any more than Jonathan Pollard in in Jail for loving Israel.

      She is a lover of a fatwa for legitimizing – blowing-up-American-citizens scumbag (and convicted co-conspirator). She is a would be progressive who supports the oppressors of native progressives.

      Ron Kuby walked away from this case.

      • Eva Smagacz on June 22, 2013, 7:35 am

        Ron Kuby walked away from the case because, by his own admission, he had political and ideological differences with Rahman. It was happening a lot when dissidents were tried under communist regimes – many defence lawyers kept well clear of such radioactive clients.

        Lynne Stewart’s conviction was a reminder that defendants of enemies of a state ( and state has a monopoly on who is declared an enemy of a state) are outside the previously understood framework of rights ( like the right to lawyer – client privilege ).

      • Keith on June 22, 2013, 12:43 pm

        TOKYOBK- “She is a lover of a fatwa for legitimizing – blowing-up-American-citizens scumbag (and convicted co-conspirator). She is a would be progressive who supports the oppressors of native progressives.”

        Methinks I detect more than a hint of bias against a defense attorney who vigorously defends an Arab client accused of terrorism, and nowadays who isn’t susceptible to be charged with aiding terrorism? I have provided a couple of opinions supportive of Stewart. Her trial/sentencing is on a par with that of the Cuban Five.

        “Lynne Stewart should have never been there in the first place, a victim of the National Security State’s wars against humanity, both foreign and domestic. Stewart, one of the nation’s best and most dedicated guardians of human rights, was sentenced to 28 months in prison for zealously defending her client, the so-called “Blind Sheik” Omar Abdel-Rahman, accused in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Stewart helped her client write a press release, and wound up being convicted of obstruction of justice and giving material support to terrorists. That was in 2006.… Her appeal was denied and she began serving her 28-month sentence in November 2009.… But the judge resentenced Lynne to ten years in prison. She was 70 years old, and the breast cancer had returned.” (Glen Ford)

        “In a decision that reflects the post-911 terrorism hysteria, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed prominent civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart’s convictions and remanded her case to district court Judge John G. Koeltl to reconsider her sentence. The appellate panel directed Koeltl to remand Stewart to custody and the 70-year-old woman is now in prison.

        The SAMs were placed on Stewart’s client, Sheikh Omar Ahmad Ali Abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence for terrorism-related crimes. They restrict his ability to communicate with persons outside of the prison. Stewart and Abdel Rahman’s other attorneys, Ramsey Clark and Abdeen Jabara, signed statements saying they wouldn’t forward mail from Abdel Rahman to a third person or use their communications with Abdel Rahman to pass messages between him and third persons, including the media. Stewart violated her agreement to abide by the SAMs. Clark and Jabara allegedly did as well. Lawyers who violate SAMs expect to suffer administrative consequences, such as being denied visiting privileges. Yet Stewart was indicted for federal crimes. Clark and Jabara were not.” (Marjorie Cohn)

    • Denis on June 23, 2013, 11:06 am

      Just so we’re straight on what Stewart was sentenced for. . .it had nothing to do with loving Arabs.

      USDC judge John Koeltl, a Clinton appointee, sentenced her to 28 months for secretly passing messages to Rahman’s pals. That seemed about right to me; the prosecutors were asking for 30 freaking years.

      Then, after Koeltl gave her that gift, Stewart essentially flipped him the bird by saying she could do the 28 months standing on her head, apparently not realizing that he who giveth a light sentence can taketh it away. Koeltl rewarded her disrespect by upping her sentence enough to make a lasting impression. I was absolutely incredulous that any lawyer would say such a thing — boggled my mind. Being brash is one thing; being stupid and insulting your sentencing-judge is something else.

      Doing the math, she got 28 months for breaking the law and 92 months for pissing the judge off. I’m not praising Koeltl for what he did – he did more to damage the judicial system with his disrespect of American’s sense of fair play than she did by pissing on the original sentence. But that’s “justice” in the Big Apple.

      In the end Stewart got the same amount of time for her flip comment that Skilling ended up with for screwing hundreds of investors out of millions and millions. “Justice.”

      America, love it or leave it. [This comment submitted from Canada.]

  3. DICKERSON3870 on June 21, 2013, 3:14 pm

    Petition to Free Lynne Stewart: Save Her Life – Release Her Now!
    LINK –

  4. joer on June 21, 2013, 3:18 pm

    While you’re at it, Michael Hastings isn’t doing too well either. I’m sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation of why his car burst into flames and crashed into a tree at 4:30 A.M. (Of course, that explanation may not be the truth). I just wonder what liberals’ reaction would have been if Daniel Ellsberg was in a similar accident when he was taking on Nixon. It just seems no matter what happens, there is never a peep of dissatisfaction of disillusion with Obama from liberals. I guess it must be the way he sings Al Green.

    • marc b. on June 21, 2013, 3:54 pm

      yes, and the usual sycophants are in full condescending smirk mode over any hint of suspicion at the circumstances of hastings’ death. and why is it that the vast majority of Americans have as much respect for the press as they do congress people, both with Gallup-measured approval ratings in the teens?

    • Donald on June 21, 2013, 3:58 pm

      “t just seems no matter what happens, there is never a peep of dissatisfaction of disillusion with Obama from liberals. ”

      It depends on the liberal. You might be right if one went by polls–that is, I suspect that if you polled self-identified liberals a great many of them would still be in that idiotic infatuated state you could see in so many people back in 2008. There was some excuse back then–nowadays not so much.

      I’m liberal and support Obama on some things and dislike him on others. I can’t stand listening to him because I think he’s a smug liar, like so many politicians.

      • lysias on June 21, 2013, 4:18 pm

        There is so much discontent with the NSA programs expressed on Daily Kos that it surprised me.

        Although I must admit, I do not remember any threads about Lynne Stewart there.

    • Obsidian on June 22, 2013, 1:29 am


      “his car burst into flames and crashed into a tree at 4:30 A.M.”

      Don’t you mean ‘crashed into a tree and burst into flames’?

      • on June 22, 2013, 9:14 am

        That’s the question, isn’t it?

  5. Woody Tanaka on June 21, 2013, 3:44 pm

    “It just seems no matter what happens, there is never a peep of dissatisfaction of disillusion with Obama from liberals.”

    Oh, I think you just haven’t been reading closely enough. I remember many criticisms of him posted around here… even some that I didn’t write.

    • joer on June 21, 2013, 4:26 pm

      Ok, maybe there is a peep of dissatisfaction here and there, but the fact he is a very likable “post-racial” president who sing Al Green songs to his lovely wife seems enough to deflect most criticism from the left-at least the mainstream left. …And I just wanted to give an RIP to Michael Hastings, who I really respected…and point out that the circumstances of his death were odd, especially when all kinds of Democratic and Republican lawmakers are tripping over each other calling investigative journalists and whistle blowers traitors-implying they are worthy of death.

      • Woody Tanaka on June 21, 2013, 4:55 pm

        In all seriousness, your statement is, by and large, correct. The fact that what passes for the left in this country isn’t on Obama like it should simply demonstrates the moral vacuousness of the place. Shameful, but true.

  6. kalithea on June 22, 2013, 9:15 pm

    Americans eat their own. Then they go back to pizza, nachos, football and reality shows.

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