Walker Lindh indicted on 10 counts
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A federal grand jury Tuesday indicted John Walker Lindh on 10 counts, charging him with being a terrorist trained by al Qaeda who conspired with the Taliban against Americans, Attorney General John Ashcroft said.
"It is extraordinary for the United States to have to charge one of its own citizens with aiding and conspiring with international terrorist groups whose agenda is to kill Americans," Ashcroft told a press conference.
Even after Walker Lindh learned of the September 11 attacks on the United States, he remained with a Taliban fighting group, the attorney general said.
"He remained despite having learned of the terrorist attacks on his homeland, despite knowing that Osama bin Laden was responsible for those attacks, and despite the knowledge that ... additional terrorist attacks and acts were planned," Ashcroft said.
The grand jury, from the Eastern District of Virginia, added six charges to the original four against Walker Lindh, including conspiracy to contribute services to al Qaeda, contributing services to al Qaeda, conspiracy to supply services to the Taliban and using and carrying firearms and destructive devices during crimes of violence.
If convicted, Walker Lindh, 20, could receive multiple life sentences, six additional 10-year sentences, plus 30 years, Ashcroft said. The government could still seek additional charges that could carry the death penalty.
The grand jury, however, did not indict the California resident for treason or any other capital offense.
The indictment includes charges from the original criminal complaint alleging he provided material support or resources to terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda, conspired to kill U.S. nationals abroad and engaged in transactions with the ousted Taliban regime.
The indictment also eliminated the need for Wednesday's scheduled probable cause hearing where prosecutors would have presented evidence that a crime was committed.
Ashcroft: 'Timeline of terror'
Walker Lindh left home to study Islam, first in Yemen, then in Pakistan. It was while in Pakistan that he learned about the Taliban, later crossing the border to join them.
Ashcroft said the indictment includes a "timeline of terror," detailing where Walker Lindh was and what he was doing before and after the September 11 attacks on the United States.
"In the early summer of the year 2001, as al Qaeda was training and financing its operatives in the United States, the indictment places John Walker Lindh in an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, honing his skills in weapons, explosives and battlefield combat," Ashcroft said.
Later that same summer, Ashcroft said, "Walker Lindh swore allegiance to jihad after being told that Osama bin Laden had sent some 50 people to carry out multiple suicide operations against the United States and Israel."
Ashcroft said "an all-star team of the United States' most talented and dedicated legal minds" would prosecute Walker Lindh.
The attorney general said the defendant's legal rights had "been carefully, scrupulously honored ... including his right not to incriminate himself and to be represented by counsel."
Earlier, defense attorneys filed a court motion arguing for Walker Lindh's release from jail pending trial.
"Mr. Lindh has no criminal record of any kind and absolutely no history of violent or dangerous conduct," Walker Lindh's attorneys said in the motion.
"The affidavit presented by the government in support of the complaint does not even allege that Mr. Lindh has ever intended or attempted to harm any civilian. Nor is there any evidence that Mr. Lindh is a flight risk."
A bond hearing for Walker Lindh was scheduled for Wednesday. Prosecutors were expected to argue that he remain held without bond.
His formal arraignment on all charges was scheduled for 10 a.m. ET Monday.
Walker Lindh was taken into custody by the U.S. military after a bloody prison uprising that began November 25 in northern Afghanistan. During the uprising, CIA operative Mike Spann was killed.
In their filing, the defense attorneys argued Walker Lindh retreated from fighting as soon as U.S. planes began bombing the area and that "there is no evidence that Mr. Lindh made any attempt to engage in combat with United States military forces, let alone to harm any civilian."
His lawyers also cited "the slim weight of the evidence presented by the government."
The defense team challenged statements given by Walker Lindh to the FBI in early December while still a prisoner in Afghanistan.
His lawyers said he was held incommunicado for approximately eight days leading up to the interview, with minimal food and medical attention despite having a gunshot wound.
The defense team alleged that Walker Lindh, in the two to three days before the FBI interviews, was "kept in a metal shipping container, blindfolded and immobilized by hand and foot shackles and duct tape that bound his naked body to a stretcher."
During this period, his defense team argued, "his repeated requests for a lawyer had been ignored. These highly coercive conditions, together with the government's failure to produce anything other than hearsay accounts of the statements, render the alleged statements highly unreliable."
LAW TOP STORIES:
Robert Blake goes to court
High court allows anti-abortion protests outside clinics
Father of terror victim seeks court ruling to help his lawsuit
Title IX minority pushes enforcement, not change
Owners of Olympic winner's training rink guilty of fraud
|Back to the top|