It may be an age-old concern, but the attorney-client privilege is under scrutiny in a New York case involving a lawyer who has defended an alleged terrorist.

Civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart was just doing her job and should be protected by the First Amendment from charges she helped an imprisoned Egyptian cleric direct terrorism, her defense attorney said last Friday.

Lawyer Michael E. Tigar asked U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl to throw out the indictment against Stewart. The judge said he will decide later if the case would go to trial next year in Manhattan.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Morvillo said the attorney-client relationship and the First Amendment do not protect a lawyer from violating the law, especially when it involves national security and the fight against terrorism.

Stewart was charged last year with helping deliver messages from her client, 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.

Prosecutors say she and co-defendants Mohammed Yousry, an Arabic translator, and Ahmed Abdel Sattar, a U.S. postal worker, helped relay messages from the blind Egyptian cleric to the Islamic Group, a radical Egyptian-based terrorist group.

All three have pleaded innocent.

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