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Thursday, 4 April, 2002, 04:24 GMT 05:24 UK
'US citizen' in Camp X-Ray
John Walker Lindh
John Walker Lindh is the only known US prisoner
United States officials are investigating a statement by a prisoner captured in Afghanistan and held in Cuba that he is a US citizen.

The man, named by the ABC news network as Yasser Esam Hamdi, was captured after a November prison uprising in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-I-Sharif.

Camp X-Ray prisoner
Around 300 suspects are being held at Camp X-Ray
The Justice Department says it has found a birth certificate in the southern state of Louisiana that appears to match his claim that he was born there.

Children born in the United States are automatically American citizens.

If the claims prove true, Mr Hamdi would be eligible to be transferred to the US mainland.

So far, only one US citizen, John Walker Lindh, has been found among Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters captured during the US-led campaign against terror.

Mr Hamdi is one of around 300 suspects being held at Camp X-Ray, in the US base at Guantanamo Bay.

Civilian trial

Mr Hamdi says he was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where his parents were working.

He accompanied his parents to Saudi Arabia when he was a toddler.

The executive order, signed by President Bush last year allowing suspected terrorists to be tried in military tribunals does not extend to US citizens.

That means that Mr Hamdi could be eligible to be moved to the mainland and face a civilian trial like that being used to prosecute Mr Walker.

Mr Walker faces 10 charges including conspiring to kill Americans and providing support to terrorists, including Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda.

On Wednesday, lawyers for Mr Walker said he was "tortured" into confessing and was mistreated by the FBI on his arrest.

The BBC's Ian Pannell in Washington
"The Justice Department in the US says it has found a birth certificate matching his claim"
See also:

03 Apr 02 | Americas
'Key' al-Qaeda recruiter captured
01 Apr 02 | Americas
Setback for 'US Taleban' defence
07 Feb 02 | Americas
'American Taleban' had Yemen hopes
24 Jan 02 | Americas
Profile: John Walker Lindh
16 Jan 02 | Americas
Walker Lindh's strange odyssey
16 Jan 02 | Americas
US Taleban suspect 'refused lawyer'
14 Dec 01 | Americas
Enigma of 'American Taleban'
05 Dec 01 | Americas
US shocked by 'American Taleban'
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