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STEWART PROSECUTOR: THERE WAS NO DEAL NEW YORK — A federal prosecutor said Monday he backed off a criminal investigation of defense attorney Lynne Stewart to avoid disclosing that her client, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, was being probed by intelligence officials for promoting terrorism from behind bars. Patrick Fitzgerald, now U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, said that conducting a criminal investigation of Stewart and the sheikh, and then telling Stewart about it, would have undermined ongoing efforts to “keep people from being killed.” Stewart was ultimately indicted last year for helping the sheikh communicate with his followers in the government-designated terror organization Islamic Group. Fitzgerald’s comments came Monday in an unusual hearing held to determine whether warnings he gave Stewart in 2000 about her past meetings with the imprisoned sheikh — and negotiations over conditions for renewed meetings — amounted to a non-prosecution agreement for Stewart. Fitzgerald, who was one of the Southern District’s lead terrorism prosecutors at the time, strongly denied Monday that such an agreement was even implied. Charges against Stewart for providing material support for terrorism were ultimately dismissed by federal Judge John Koeltl of the Southern District of New York, but she still faces trial on allegations she made false statements and conspired to defraud the United States. The hearing Monday before Judge Koeltl was sought by Stewart’s defense lawyer, Michael Tigar, in an attempt to clear her of the remaining charges. — The New York Law Journal

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