- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 20, 2002


The government and lawyers for U.S.-born Taliban follower John Walker Lindh reached a broad agreement on use of classified material at Lindh's upcoming trial, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said yesterday in Alexandria.

Judge Ellis said the government has agreed to declassify some documents, summarize others and withdraw additional documents.

A small number of documents might be considered at a future hearing, Judge Ellis said.

The government and defense initially had designated a large number of classified documents to be used in the case, but the judge said both sides were able to privately work out their agreement to reduce the list. Judge Ellis made the announcement after opening a secret proceeding where the classified documents were discussed.

On Tuesday, Lindh's attorneys filed a motion complaining that the United States flew entertainers around the war zone in Afghanistan but wouldn't fly Lindh home when he was entitled to a court hearing.

The refusal to take Lindh before a magistrate immediately after U.S. forces took custody of him in December violated his rights, his attorneys said in the Tuesday motion. Statements he made to interrogators before a hearing finally was held in January should be banned from Lindh's trial, the motion said.

In their written motion Tuesday, Lindh's attorneys complained that entertainers Jay Leno, Drew Carey, Wayne Newton and the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders were able to obtain government transportation to and from the war zone.

"While the government had no duty to take Jay Leno or the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders to and from Afghanistan, it was required by law to bring Mr. Lindh before a court," the defense attorneys said. Comedian Drew Carey was even flown to a Navy ship where Lindh was a prisoner, the lawyers added.

"If the government fails to bring a suspect before a magistrate within six hours of apprehension, any subsequent statements must be suppressed. While allowances are made for the distance to the nearest magistrate, here, the government missed the six-hour mark by an astounding 1,314 hours."

Lindh was captured in November and turned over to U.S. custody Dec. 1. He was taken to the United States on Jan. 23, and the hearing was held the next day to advise him of the charges and ensure that he understood his rights.

Lindh's statements to interrogators in Afghanistan about his military training and his enlistment in the Taliban militia form the basis for his indictment, the defense said. It would be a major victory for Lindh if they were suppressed.

The defense also filed two other motions Tuesday for suppression of his statements.

One challenged joint questioning by a Special Forces medic and a CNN interviewer, asserting that a severely wounded Lindh responded under duress and was not read his constitutional rights.

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