In the same week that the Obama administration decided there would be no prosecutions of Bush acolytes for torture and extraordinary rendition, they also agreed to go ahead with a move to increase the jail sentence of civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart. In July 2010 they succeeded in getting her sentence increased from 28 months to ten years.
Lynne Stewart’s “crime” was to pass a message from one of her clients, imprisoned Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel Rahman, to his followers who were struggling against the dictatorial Mubarak regime. Mubarak was one of the United States’ favourite dictators. Despite the fact that Mubarak killed many thousands more people than Omar Abdel Rahman’s supporters ever did, it was Mubarak that the United States designated a good guy, and Rahman a bad guy. At Lynne Stewart’s trial, the jury were repeatedly shown videos and photographs of 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden, despite the fact that neither Stewart or Rahman had any link to either.
Stewart believed that restrictions on her communication as a lawyer with her client, and the recording by government of her meetings with her client, were unconstitutional. She read out the message from her client at a public press conference in New York. This was it:
“I [Omar Abdel-Rahmn] am not withdrawing my support of the cease-fire, I am merely questioning it and I am urging you, who are on the ground there to discuss it and to include everyone in your discussions as we always have done.”
At the time Obama decided to imprison her for much longer, Stewart was already known to have cancer. Due to delayed and inadequate treatment in prison, this has now spread throughout her body. it is now in her shoulder, lungs and lymph nodes. She has just been recommended for compassionate release on these grounds by the prison Governor. This however is a Federal decision. Obama’s pursuit of whistleblowers and others who question the “war on terror” has been vicious and unremitting. The hate campaign in the USA towards Stewart in the USA is startling to British eyes.
Desmond Tutu and Noam Chomsky head the petition to free Lynne Stewart. Please add your names.