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NY lawyer with terror clients indicted in tax case

NEW YORK (AP) – A lawyer whose clients have included terrorism suspects and disbarred civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges including failing to file tax returns.

The lawyer, Stanley Cohen, said the indictment is a politically motivated attempt to silence him.

The indictment was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York on Thursday. In a press release announcing it, U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian’s office said convictions on the charges carry penalties of prison time and fines. No arraignment date has been set.

The indictment accuses Cohen of not filing individual and corporate tax returns between 2005 and 2010 and other violations including failing to maintain books and records and not filing the proper forms after receiving several thousand dollars from clients.

Cohen called it a “witch hunt.”

“This is the culmination of at least five years of harassing me, of seeking to silence me,” he told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

A telephone call to the U.S. attorney’s office seeking comment on Cohen’s remarks wasn’t immediately returned.

Cohen represented Stewart in 2000. Stewart was convicted in 2005 of letting one of her clients, blind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, communicate with a man who relayed messages to senior members of an Egyptian-based terrorist organization. Abdel-Rahman was convicted in conspiracies to blow up New York landmarks and assassinate former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and was sentenced to life in prison. Stewart maintained her innocence.

Cohen’s clients also have included Mohamed Alessa, a North Bergen, N.J., man who was arrested in June 2010 while preparing to board a flight to Egypt and pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to join an al-Qaida-affiliated group with the purpose of killing those who disagree with their ideology.

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