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Wednesday, 6 February, 2002, 07:22 GMT
'American Taleban' faces new charges
John Walker Lindh
Walker is said to have met Osama Bin Laden
John Walker Lindh, the US citizen accused of fighting alongside the Afghan Taleban, has been formally indicted on 10 charges, including conspiring to kill fellow Americans.


It is extraordinary for the US to have to charge one of its own citizens with aiding and conspiring with international terrorist groups whose agenda is to kill Americans

US Attorney General John Ashcroft
The indictment, which was handed down by a grand jury in eastern Virginia, formalised the six charges filed against him last month and added four more.

The 20-year-old Californian Muslim, who was captured in Afghanistan and sent back to the US, faces several life sentences in prison if convicted.

He is due to make a second court appearance in Virginia on Wednesday, where his lawyers are expected to apply for his release until trial.

"There is no evidence that Mr Walker made any attempt to engage in combat with United States military forces, let alone to harm any civilian," they said.

They argue that their client's apparent confession to Taleban membership was extracted under "highly coercive circumstances".

But correspondents say the grand jury indictment makes the prospect of release unlikely.

'Trained terrorist'

Announcing the indictment at the US Justice Department, Attorney General John Ashcroft said it described Mr Walker as "an al-Qaeda-trained terrorist who conspired with the Taleban to kill his fellow citizens".

He said the indictment was based in part on voluntary statements made by Mr Walker.

The new charges are:

  • Conspiracy to contribute services to al-Qaeda
  • Contributing services to the network
  • Conspiracy to supply services to the Taleban
  • Using and carrying firearms and destructive devices during crimes of violence

Mr Walker had already been charged with:

  • Conspiracy to murder US citizens or US nationals
  • Two counts of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to designated foreign terrorist organisations
  • Two counts of providing material support and resources to terrorist organisations
  • Supplying services to the Taleban

Asked whether the government would ask the grand jury to charge Mr Walker with treason, US Attorney Paul J McNulty said: "As far as other charges, we have the opportunity or right to have a superseding indictment if the evidence justifies that."

'Brute force'

Mr Ashcroft said the indictment presented a timeline of Mr Walker's involvement with terrorism.

The charge sheet said that in early summer 2001, Mr Walker was in an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan.

Walker's father, Frank Lindh
Walker's father is standing by his son
Later, as the network made its alleged preparation for the attacks of 11 September, Mr Walker was "forging ever deeper bonds" with al-Qaeda and met America's foremost suspect, Osama Bin Laden, Mr Ashcroft said.

Mr Ashcroft said that on 11 September, Mr Walker was fighting alongside the Taleban in Afghanistan, and in the weeks after the attack he remained with his fighting camp, despite knowing about the suicide attacks and being aware that additional attacks were planned.

As the US launched its war against terrorism in Afghanistan, Mr Walker remained "shoulder to shoulder" with the Taleban, Mr Ashcroft said.

"The US is a country of laws... Walker Lindh only recognised the law of brute force."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
US Attorney General John Ashcroft
"Walker Lindh could receive multiple life sentences"
The BBC's Michael Buchanan
"He's accused of helping al-Qaeda and the Taleban"
See also:

24 Jan 02 | Americas
'American Taleban' appears in court
24 Jan 02 | Americas
Profile: John Walker Lindh
18 Jan 02 | Middle East
'American Taleban's Yemen connection
16 Jan 02 | Americas
US Taleban suspect 'refused lawyer'
16 Jan 02 | Americas
Walker Lindh's strange odyssey
14 Dec 01 | Americas
Enigma of 'American Taleban'
05 Dec 01 | Americas
US shocked by 'American Taleban'
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