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Civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart, 70, gets extended sentence

A New York civil rights lawyer was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison in a terrorism case by a judge who boosted her original sentence by nearly eight years after concluding she lied to a jury and lacked remorse.

"I'm somewhat stunned," Lynne Stewart, 70, told U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl after he announced the sentence for her conviction for letting a jailed Egyptian sheik communicate with his radical followers despite restrictions in place to prevent it.

The sentence, nearly four times longer than the two-year, four-month sentence she originally received in 2006, left Stewart sobbing in her prison uniform after Koeltl described his reasons for increasing the prison time significantly.

An appeals court had ordered a new sentencing, saying the terrorism component of the case needed to be considered, along with whether she committed perjury at her trial. The court said it had "serious doubts" whether her original sentence was reasonable.

The judge said public comments Stewart made after her first sentencing showed him that the "original sentence was not sufficient." He said she showed "a lack of remorse for conduct that was both illegal and potentially lethal."

Outside court after her original sentence, Stewart said she could do the prison time standing on her head.

Koeltl found that Stewart "willfully testified falsely at the trial" on numerous points, including in telling jurors she did not make Egyptian Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman available to his followers and did not violate government rules meant to silence the sheik because lawyers worked in a "bubble" in which the government understood the rules were relaxed.

- AP

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