- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 2, 2002

The government does not have to show that John Walker Lindh "shot at Americans" or killed CIA agent Johnny "Mike" Spann to pursue conspiracy charges against the accused Taliban fighter, a federal judge ruled yesterday.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said at a hearing that prosecutors only have to prove that Lindh accused of conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals, providing support to terrorists, and using firearms and destructive devices during crimes of violence participated in a broad conspiracy with the Taliban.
Lindh, who faces three life terms in a 10-count indictment, has not been charged in Mr. Spann's death. The CIA agent was killed during a prison uprising in Afghanistan, shortly after he interviewed Lindh.
The pretrial hearing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria heard defense concerns that the government failed to turn over numerous documents outlining the government's case and describing Lindh's captivity in Afghanistan.
Judge Ellis told prosecutors to hand over any information deemed favorable to Lindh but did not rule on the defense's request to bar statements Lindh made to U.S. authorities in Afghanistan.
The defense claims the statements were made under duress an accusation vehemently denied by prosecutors.
Also, in response to defense arguments that they needed documents to show whether camps at which Lindh trained in Afghanistan were terrorist or military in nature, prosecutor David Kelley said it didn't matter. He said Lindh trained in Taliban and al Qaeda camps, both of which have been listed by the U.S. government as terrorist organizations.
"It's not what you learn there, it's how you use it," Mr. Kelley said. "If he's doing it for al Qaeda or Taliban, which are terrorist organizations, then that fits the statute."
At one point, when defense attorney George Harris said Lindh was not in Afghanistan to conspire to commit criminal acts, Judge Ellis asked, "What was he doing over there?" But he retracted the question, saying: "You don't have to answer that. It was an inappropriate question."
Lindh's attorneys said he was denied access to legal representation after his detention by U.S. military forces in November and was tortured. They said his statements during his captivity should not be admissible because he had been blindfolded, kept in a freezing metal container and tightly bound with handcuffs.
Much of the government's case is based on interviews Lindh gave to FBI agents on Dec. 2 and Dec. 3.
In documents filed Friday, U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty said Lindh received the same care and medical treatment provided to wounded U.S. military personnel.
Mr. McNulty said U.S. military authorities "ensured his safety, medicated him appropriately, kept his wounds from becoming further infected, operated on him, tended to his hygiene, fed him healthy and nourishing meals, gave him plenty of water and made it possible for him to conduct his religious observations.
"This wasn't torture," Mr. McNulty said, adding that accusations by the defense were "completely at odds with the actual facts."
Mr. McNulty said Lindh received the same amount of food and water as U.S. military personnel, and that a physician treated him twice a day, giving him antibiotics, applying disinfectant to his wounds and changing his dressings.
"While the Navy physician who was treating him had to sleep on a concrete floor in a sleeping bag, in a room with a hole in the wall and a hole in the ceiling, Lindh slept on a stretcher in a container that protected him from the elements," he said.
After being moved from Afghanistan to a U.S. ship, Mr. McNulty said Lindh was operated on by a senior surgeon to remove a bullet lodged in his leg, received daily medical treatment and medication, and asked for and got a haircut.
Judge Ellis set May 31 for a hearing to determine who could be interviewed and said the defense could subpoena anyone who refused. Judge Ellis said he would determine what interviews would actually take place.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide