A former New York attorney dying of cancer in a federal prison in Texas has been released on compassionate grounds and allowed to return home. Lynne Stewart, now 74, was known for defending politically radical defendants, including Omar Abdel-Rahman, better known as the the "Blind Sheikh," a leader of Egypt's militant Islamist group Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, who helped plan the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Stewart was convicted in 2005 of supporting terrorism and conspiring to defraud the government after issuing two press releases on Abdel-Rahman's behalf. She was sentenced to ten years, which she's been serving at FMC Carswell, a military base and women's prison in Fort Worth.
Photo by Matt Meyer via Justice for Lynne Stewart. Stewart embraces a supporter as she arrives at LaGuardia airport on January 1.
Stewart has had breast cancer since 2009; this summer, as her condition grew more serious, she asked the federal government to set her free to die at home. That request was denied. But on December 31, as the New York Times was first to report, Bureau of Prisons director Charles E. Samuels filed his own motion with Judge John Koeltl to allow Stewart compassionate release, given that her life expectancy is now less than 18 months.