Petition to Free Lynne Stewart: Save Her Life - Release Her Now!
- A CRI DE COEUR FROM ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU ON THE PERSECUTION
OF LYNNE STEWART
"It is devastating, totally unbelievable. Is this in a
"democracy," the only super-power? We must contact heads of
churches and other religious bodies in the U.S. and elsewhere -
civil rights leaders, lawyers' organizations.
Praying God's blessings on your efforts."
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
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 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
These measures placed severe restrictions on any communication
of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman communication with the outside
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
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 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
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.
WE CALL UPON ALL TO SIGN THE PETITION NOW TO SAVE LYNNE STEWART
[Note: If you are using a computer with an older operating
system and browser, your signature will not register on
change.org. If that case, PLEASE, send your support to
"ralph.poynter@... and we shall add you to the list of
Click on this url link to sign the petition:
PETITION TO FREE LYNNE STEWART: SAVE HER LIFE - RELEASE HER NOW!
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
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
It amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of
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
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