American Taliban on trial

Feb. 14, 2002, midnight | By Sally Colwell | 18 years, 11 months ago

Since the United States began counterattacks on terrorist groups in the Middle East many suspects have been apprehended for involvement. However, no man has caused more controversy than the American who fought against America.

John Walker Lindh has been formally charged with conspiring to kill Americans overseas, serving in the Taliban and aiding terrorist organizations al Qaeda and Harakat ul-Mujahideen. He could potentially face life in prison if found guilty of these charges, but the outcome of his trial is anything but guaranteed. The question remains as to whether his agreement to waive his rights and the statements he made soon after his arrest can be used in court.

The prosecution, which filed its formal complaint against Lindh on Jan 15, will support its case with statements made by Lindh while he was in custody of the FBI on the USS Bataan in the Arabian Sea, where he was held for almost two months.

According to U.S. attorney Paul McNulty, Lindh confessed that he had trained for seven weeks to fight for the al Qaeda network and that he knew prior to Sept 11 that Osama bin Laden had ordered suicide attacks on the United States. Attorney General John Ashcroft says Lindh made the statements after signing a waiver of his basic rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer. "John Walker chose to join terrorists who wanted to kill Americans, and he chose to waive his right to an attorney," Ashcroft said.

However, Lindh's lead attorney, James Brosnahan, asserts that Lindh's waiver can not be used in the prosecution. Lindh had recently been shot in the leg and had been in custody for several weeks when he signed the waiver, and the defense says his signature should not be considered voluntary. According to the defense, Lindh began asking for a lawyer soon after he was arrested. "For 54 days, the United States government has kept John Lindh away from a lawyer. He began requesting a lawyer almost immediately, which would have been Dec 2 or 3," Brosnahan said on Jan 25, the first day he met with Lindh.

Lindh's preliminary hearing took place on Feb 5. He was denied bail because the judge believed him to be a flight risk.

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Sally Colwell. Sally Colwell is co-centerspread editor and is tremendously excited to be on paper this year. In her free time she enjoys reading novels, drawing, not practicing the violin and attending demolition derbies. During the summer she is a counselor at Burgundy Center for Wildlife Studies … More »

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