US civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart lost a bid to clear herself of criminal charges linked to her representation of a convicted terrorist and must now examine her own defense. Finding no proof that Stewart had a non-prosecution agreement with the government, Southern District Judge John G. Koeltl kept in place allegations that she made false statements and conspired to defraud the United States in the course of representing convicted terrorist Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman.

“There is no credible basis for Stewart’s contention that there was an enforceable agreement or promise not to prosecute her,” Koeltl wrote in United States v. Sattar, 02 Cr. 395, which was signed Monday and filed Wednesday.

Stewart was indicted last year for helping the sheikh — who is serving life in prison for conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks and assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak — communicate with followers in the terrorist organization Islamic Group. She remains free on bail.

Earlier this year, Koeltl dismissed the two most serious charges accusing Stewart of providing material support for terrorism.

At an unusual September hearing, Stewart’s attorney, Michael Tigar, attempted to get the remaining charges dismissed, arguing that the government had strongly implied that she would not face criminal charges for her dealings on behalf of the sheikh.

At that hearing, Patrick Fitzgerald, who was one of the Southern District’s lead terrorism prosecutors at the time and is now U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, strongly denied that an agreement not to prosecute Stewart was ever even implied.

Rather, he said, he backed off the criminal probe of Stewart to avoid disclosing that her client, the sheikh, was being investigated by intelligence officers for promoting terrorism from behind bars.

Stanley Cohen, a lawyer who represented Stewart in the summer of 2000, testified as well that he did not believe that he had obtained a formal agreement from the government not to charge Stewart.

“None of Stewart’s arguments is persuasive,” Judge Koeltl wrote in Monday’s opinion. “Both Cohen and Fitzgerald testified unequivocally that no formal nonprosecution agreement was ever reached by them.”

The crux of the case revolves around Special Administrative Measures imposed on the sheikh by the Bureau of Prisons, restricting his access to mail, the telephone and visitors, and barring him from talking to the press.

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