By Frank Donnelly Staten Island Advance
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The lawyer with ties to Staten Island who was serving a lengthy prison sentence for aiding a terrorist, has been ordered released from prison due to her terminal illness.
Manhattan attorney Lynne Stewart, 74, a Wagner College graduate, was convicted nine years ago of providing material aid to Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind cleric behind the 1993 scheme to blow up the World Trade Center. The attack killed six people, including Stephen Knapp of Great Kills, and injured more than 1,000.
Ahmed Abdel Sattar, a postal worker from Elm Park, also was convicted.
District Judge John G. Koeltl of Manhattan federal court has granted motions by Manhattan federal prosecutors and the federal Bureau of Prisons seeking compassionate release for Ms. Stewart, who was serving a 10-year sentence.
She suffers from recurrent Stage IV breast cancer which has metastasized to the lung and bone, said court papers.
Oncologists estimate she will live no longer than 18 months, court documents said.
Ms. Stewart, who had been held in Federal Medical Center, Carswell, Texas, will live under supervised release with her adult son in Brooklyn, said court papers. Her good-conduct-time release date would have been August 2018.
The blind sheik’s defense lawyer, Ms. Stewart was accused of helping him pass messages from behind bars to militant followers in Egypt, even though she had signed papers pledging she wouldn’t allow him to do so, according to previous Advance reports.
An anonymous jury convicted her in February 2005, after which Koeltl, who presided over the trial, called her crimes “extraordinarily severe criminal conduct.”
Sattar was found guilty of conspiracy for plotting to “kill and kidnap persons in a foreign country” by publishing an edict urging the killing of Jews and their supporters.
Ms. Stewart, who appealed the verdict and lost, was originally sentenced to 28 months in prison. However, in 2010 a federal appeals court ordered her re-sentenced. A harsher prison term of 10 years was imposed and upheld in 2012.
Court documents said Ms. Stewart’s condition had been in remission when she was sentenced. However, she’s no longer in remission and her prognosis is “poor.”
Ms. Stewart also suffers from anemia, hypertension, asthma, and Type 2 diabetes, said court records.
According to federal codes, persons diagnosed with a terminal, incurable disease whose life expectancy is no more than 18 months are eligible for compassionate release consideration.
“I know that she is very happy to be home,” Jill Shellow, Ms. Stewart’s lawyer, told CNN after her client’s release. “I believe her immediate plan is to seek medical attention at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.”