Attorney Lynne Stewart, convicted of helping an Islamic extremist cleric pass messages from prison to terrorist followers, deserves an enhanced sentence because of statements she made after her conviction and sentencing, U.S. prosecutors said.
A federal appeals court in New York in November ruled that Stewart, 70 should be resentenced in a way that reflects the “seriousness” of her crime. U.S. District Judge John Koeltl in Manhattan, who originally sentenced Stewart to 28 months in prison and is presiding over the case, has scheduled her resentencing for July 15.
Stewart was convicted by a federal jury in New York in 2005 for helping her former client, the blind Egyptian sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, smuggle messages to followers in defiance of U.S. prison restrictions. Stewart, who was free pending appeal, was ordered to prison Nov. 19 and is currently being held at a federal jail in lower Manhattan.
“Stewart has made it clear that if given the opportunity to engage in the unlawful conduct for which she now stands convicted she would do it again,” federal prosecutors in the office of Preet Bharara said in court papers.
The government said Stewart deserved a harsher term because was likely to continue breaking the law, citing statements Stewart made in interviews in the days after the appeals court’s decision. Assistant Manhattan U.S. Attorneys Andrew Dember and Michael Maimin said a longer term would prevent Stewart from committing other crimes, arguing her actions of “ideologically motivated criminal conduct” spanned years.
“I’d like to think I would not do anything differently,” Stewart said in a video interview with the Democracy Now Network on Nov. 18, prosecutors quoted her as saying. “I think it was necessary. I would do it again. I might handle it a little differently, but I would do it again.” BLOOMBERG H/T ZIP