- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Federal prosecutors yesterday denied defense assertions that American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh was tortured, coerced or improperly questioned after his capture by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
In documents filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Bellows said the 22-year-old Californian, now listed as an "unlawful enemy combatant," was treated with "exceptional regard for his health, his safety and his security."
Lindh's attorneys have asked the court to throw out incriminating statements their client made after his capture, saying he was never properly advised of his Miranda rights and that interviews took place while he was being held in a shipping container and in need of food and medical attention.
Prosecutors disputed the defense claims, outlining for the court each meal Lindh was given during his captivity and describing in detail the medical attention he received after he had been wounded in the prison uprising that killed CIA operative Johnny "Mike" Spann.
"The defense would have the court believe that in the time period of December 1 through December 10, the United States military tortured John Walker Lindh, and thus rendered any confession involuntary," said Mr. Bellows in the motion.
"In truth, what the United States military did in the time period of December 1 through December 10 was to protect, nourish and heal John Walker Lindh. That is the record upon which his confessions stand," he said.
Much of the government's case against Lindh is based on statements he made during interviews with the FBI on Dec. 9 and 10. Lindh waived his rights both orally and in writing to have an attorney present for the interviews.
Attorney General John Ashcroft has said Lindh, who has pleaded not guilty in the case, made "a clear choice" to waive his rights and talk to the agents.
Lindh told the FBI he met with Osama bin Laden at a terrorist training camp where the terrorist leader thanked him for taking part in the holy war against the United States. He told the FBI that he continued fighting alongside Taliban soldiers after learning of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which he understood to have been ordered by bin Laden.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis has scheduled a hearing for July 15 on the defense request to suppress evidence.
Lindh was indicted in February by a federal grand jury on 10 counts of conspiring with al Qaeda terrorists to fight against Americans as a member of the Taliban. He is accused of conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals, conspiring to and providing material support and resources to al Qaeda and the Taliban, and using, carrying and possessing firearms and destructive devices during crimes of violence.
If convicted, he could receive multiple life sentences, six additional 10-year sentences, plus 30 years.
Meanwhile, the government yesterday also denied claims by accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui that he was under government surveillance prior to the September 11 attacks on America.
In papers filed in the Alexandria federal courthouse, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Spencer said none of the hijack suspects was under surveillance before the attacks, which killed more than 3,000 people.
Prosecutors believe Moussaoui, 34, was intended as the 20th hijacker in the attacks, but was taken into custody in August on immigration violations after officials at a Minnesota flight school became suspicious of him.
The French Moroccan, acting as his own attorney, has said the government knows he was not involved in the attacks because he had been under surveillance since his residence in London was raided by British authorities several years ago.
During a hearing last week, he asked U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema to require FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to certify under threat of perjury that he was not under surveillance before his arrest. The government said Moussaoui is not entitled to such a certification.
Mr. Spencer did not object to a request by Moussaoui for an independent examination of his belongings seized during the Aug. 16 arrest to determine whether any electronic surveillance devices had been planted in them.


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