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Ailing U.S. lawyer in terrorism case seeks release from prison

Disbarred lawyer Lynne Stewart, surrounded by supporters, arrives at federal court to begin her prison sentence after being convicted on cha
Disbarred lawyer Lynne Stewart, surrounded by supporters, arrives at federal court to begin her prison sentence after being convicted on cha

By Bernard Vaughan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former New York lawyer convicted in a terrorism case is seeking to get out of prison because she is dying from cancer, according to a court document filed by her lawyer.

Lynne Stewart, 73, is suffering from stage IV breast cancer, according to the document filed on Monday, which requests that her sentence be vacated or modified to time-served.

"Ms. Stewart is dying and her ability to function is rapidly deteriorating every day," lawyer Jill Shellow wrote.

A federal jury in New York convicted Stewart in 2005 of helping her client, blind Egyptian cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, smuggle messages from prison to the Islamic Group in Egypt.

The Islamic Group is listed by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization. Abdel-Rahman was convicted in 1995 of conspiring to attack the United Nations and other New York City landmarks.

In 2006, Stewart was sentenced to 28 months in prison. In 2009, after a government appeal, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the sentence was insufficient. In 2010 she was re-sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Stewart was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, and it returned last year, according to the document.

The cancer has also spread into Stewart's lungs and lymph nodes, it said. She needs help bathing, and suffers from the side effects of chemotherapy treatments. One of her doctors believes she may not live more than a year, according to the document.

(Reporting by Bernard Vaughan; editing by Andrew Hay)

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