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Lindh attorneys want some charges dismissed

John Walker Lindh  

From Bob Franken
CNN Washington Bureau

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) -- Arguing it is not a crime for a U.S. citizen to fight in the army of another nation, attorneys for John Walker Lindh asked a federal court Monday to throw out the most serious charge lodged against the accused American Taliban.

In a motion filed in U.S. District Court, Lindh's attorneys asked that the charge of conspiring to kill U.S. nationals be dismissed because it "directly violates the well-established intent of the law of combat immunity."

"Soldiers cannot be criminally prosecuted simply for taking part in an armed conflict," the motion said.

The motion also asked dismissal of four counts that allege Lindh provided "material support and resources to foreign terrorist organizations" because his attorneys said the law on which they are based applied to financial transactions.

A hearing on the motion was set for June 17.

Lindh, 21, was captured in Afghanistan where he had been fighting with forces of the ruling Taliban.

In their motion, his attorneys denied he engaged in combat with U.S. citizens and contended it is not a crime for a U.S. citizen to go abroad and fight for another nation.


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To buttress their claim, Lindh's lawyers cited a 1985 court decision and the State Department's Web site, which cautions U.S. citizens that while it is not a crime to fight with another country's army, doing so could result in immigration problems or loss of U.S. citizenship if they fight against the United States or become commissioned officers.

Lindh's attorneys have previously attacked the conspiracy charge with a motion to suppress his statements to investigators after his capture. A hearing on that motion is scheduled July 15.

With regard to the charges of providing material support, defense lawyers argued in their motion the four counts are based on the International Economic Emergency Powers Act, which they contended only allows the president to freeze the assets of another foreign nation or individual in a national emergency.

Lindh's lawyers said the government exceeded its authority with those four counts because the act "makes no mention of the power to regulate services ... much less the power to regulate anything resembling personal association of the kind alleged against Mr. Lindh." They contended the law is about financial transactions.




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