Troubling story in the Times about the conviction of Lynne Stewart’s translator:
After working for nearly a decade as a translator for Lynne F. Stewart, a New York defense lawyer, Mr. Yousry, 49, was convicted along with her on Feb. 10 in Manhattan federal court of providing material aid to terrorism and conspiring to deceive the government. Now free on bail and awaiting sentencing, which is set for Sept. 30, he faces as much as 20 years behind bars.
Although months have passed since the verdict, Mr. Yousry remains shocked and baffled by it. Throughout the grueling nine-month trial, Mr. Yousry and his lawyers were convinced that he had a strong chance of acquittal.
The charges hinged on Ms. Stewart’s provocative legal strategy on behalf of a convicted terrorist client, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, in which she defied a prison rule that restricted communications by releasing messages from him to the international press and to his militant followers in Egypt.
Mr. Yousry’s lawyers, David Ruhnke and David Stern, showed in court that he took no actions on his own to help the sheik politically and did his translation work based on instructions he received from Ms. Stewart and other lawyers for Mr. Abdel Rahman, a blind Muslim cleric who is serving a life sentence in federal prison for conspiring to bomb landmarks in New York City.
Mr. Yousry’s case seemed particularly solid, because unlike Ms. Stewart, he never signed documents pledging to abide by prison regulations. Mr. Yousry’s lawyers specified that it was up to Ms. Stewart, as the lawyer, to see that her staff complied with the rules…
“I still don’t know what it is that I did that was even wrong, much less illegal,” said Mr. Yousry, alternately indignant and mournful, in an interview in the Manhattan office of one of his lawyers, Mr. Stern. “I followed a process that was designed by the lawyers. They said this is what we’re going to do, and I followed that. That’s what lawyers do: They tell you what’s right and what’s wrong legally.
“The fact that I now know that these lawyers were following a strategy that the government didn’t like, that makes me a criminal?” he asked.
What Mr. Yousry finds most confounding is that he was convicted of aiding Mr. Abdel Rahman’s fundamentalist Islamic cause even though the prosecutors acknowledged that he was nonviolent, did not support the sheik’s politics and was not a practicing Muslim.
Putting aside the semantic war, it is clear he is guilty of the charges- the jury returned a guilty verdict. But has he done anything wrong?
I say the report is troubling, because the tone of the story seems to lean towards one of guiltless accomplice. Granted, the prosecutor in the case disagrees. I want more info on this.
*** Update ***
I should add- I think Lynne Stewart is guilty as sin. But this Yousry case doesn’t seem as clear cut to me, and I will reserve judgement for now.