- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 30, 2002

U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty yesterday forcefully denied accusations by defense attorneys for suspected Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh that he was mistreated by U.S. military personnel during seven weeks of captivity in Afghanistan.
In papers filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Mr. McNulty, along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy I. Bellows, said the 21-year-old Californian received the same care and medical treatment provided to wounded U.S. military personnel.
"The United States military forces insured 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," said Mr. McNulty.
"This wasn't torture," he said, adding that accuations by the defense were "completely at odds with the actual facts."
Defense attorneys argued in court papers last week that their client was mistreated, even tortured, during his captivity with U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan. They asked that statements he made at the time be thrown out.
Lindh has been charged with conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals, providing support to foreign terrorist organizations and using firearms and destructive devices during crimes of violence. If convicted on all 10 counts, he faces three life terms and 90 years.
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 Bacitracin ointment to his wounds and changing his dressing.
"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," Mr. McNulty said.
The U.S. attorney said that while conditions at the military camp in Afghanistan were not ideal, Lindh's treatment was never less than it should have been.
"The United States Marine Corps had not plucked John Walker Lindh out of the California suburb where he used to live and dropped him into a metal container in the middle of Afghanistan," he said.
"Rather, it was Lindh who by traveling thousands of miles and sneaking into Afghanistan, by seeking out training at an al Qaeda camp set into motion the chain of events that led him to that metal container in the desert, and it was John Walker Lindh who, by his own terrible choices, forced the United States military to take all appropriate precautions in dealing with him," he said.
After being moved 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.
Mr. McNulty noted that after the haircut, Lindh said he did not like it and was given a second one.
He said Lindh also had his moustache trimmed at his request.
He also said the prisoner was allowed to pray five times a day, was advised each day of the location of Mecca so knew in which direction to pray and was provided with the Koran to facilitate his prayers.


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