Radical lawyer Lynne Stewart was sentenced today to 28 months in prison — far short of the maximum 30 years — for helping one of her clients, a convicted terrorist known as the "blind sheikh," communicate with his followers in Egypt. Stewart, 67, recently underwent treatment for breast cancer, and her lawyer appealed for leniency, saying, "If you send her to prison, she’s going to die. It’s as simple as that." Stewart was convicted on conspiracy charges for violating a court agreement that strictly limited her prison meetings with Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and banned her from sharing his statements with the outside world. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Video Court Translator Says He’s Innocent Video Undercover Tape: Yousry and Stewart Meet with the Blind Sheikh Click Here for More of the Brian Ross Page Stewart told reporters in 2000 that Rahman opposed a cease-fire between the Egyptian government and the Islamic Group, militants who had murdered tourists in the past. In an interview with ABC News, Stewart said she never expected to face such consequences for violating what she called "a regulation." "And of course," she said, "I certainly couldn’t predict the events of 9/11, which would make everyone in the world see anything done for a so-called or convicted terrorist in a different light." Stewart was adamant that her translator and co-defendant, Mohammed Yousry, should never have been charged in the case. "I’m innocent, but he’s 200 percent innocent. He really is roped into this by an over-reaching indictment," she told ABC News. Yousry, a U.S. citizen born in Egypt who also worked as a translator for ABC News and Fox News, was convicted in the conspiracy and sentenced to 20 months in prison today. He had faced a possible 20-year prison sentence.
Prosecutors concluded Yousry was "not a terrorist. Not someone who supports or believes in the use of violence." But they say a hidden government camera caught him and Stewart relaying messages to the sheikh. Yousry says he was only following the directions of Stewart, his employer. "I never told Omar Abdel Rahman anything that the lawyers didn’t say, and I never said anything to the lawyers that Abdel Rahman didn’t say," Yousry told ABC News in an interview to be broadcast this evening on ABC News Nightline. Another co-defendant, Ahmed Sattar, was sentenced to 24 years in prison for conspiracy to kill and kidnap people in a foreign country. Sattar was a follower of Sheikh Rahman’s, who also worked as a paralegal for his defense.