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Additional Charges in Terror Case

November 20, 2003|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — The government filed new charges Wednesday against a New York civil rights lawyer accused of helping a jailed terrorist communicate with his followers, four months after a judge threw out the most serious of the original counts.

Prosecutors say lawyer Lynne Stewart improperly aided Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence for conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks and assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The prosecution says Stewart, former U.S. postal worker Ahmed Abdel Sattar and Arabic translator Mohammed Yousry helped relay messages from the cleric to a radical terrorist group based in Egypt. They have pleaded not guilty.

The government earlier had charged Stewart, Sattar and Yousry with conspiring to support a terrorist organization, but a federal judge dismissed the two most serious counts in the original indictment.

U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl said then that it was unconstitutionally vague to prosecute the three based on the mere use of telephones and other devices to help the sheik communicate with his followers.

The new indictment alleges the same facts but brings charges under a different section of anti-terrorist law -- suggesting Stewart and Yousry used the sheik to carry out their conspiracy. The new charges also say Sattar conspired with the sheik to kill and kidnap people in a foreign country.

Stewart, who is free on bail, reasserted her innocence Wednesday and said the new charges were part of a "vindictive" effort by the government to skirt the judge's decision in July.

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