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Spann's father wants stiff sentence for Lindh

Johnny Spann
Johnny Spann  

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) -- The father of the first American killed in combat in the U.S.-led Afghan war asked Monday for the chance to address the federal court that will sentence John Walker Lindh -- the man he blames for his son's death.

"I will be able to emphasize to the court that this John Walker Lindh was part of a conspiracy to kill Mike," and that a related conspiracy also led to the September 11 attacks, Johnny Spann said outside the courthouse.

He indicated he wants to influence the judge to give Walker Lindh as stiff a sentence as possible.

Spann submitted a petition to make a "victim impact statement" to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

His 32-year-old son, CIA agent Johnny Micheal "Mike" Spann, was killed November 25 in an uprising at the northern Afghanistan prison in Mazar-e Sharif where Walker Lindh was being held as a Taliban fighter. He is survived by his wife, three children, his parents and siblings.

Plea agreement: U.S. v. Walker Lindh 
Statement of facts 
Criminal information: Criminal counts to which Lindh is pleading guilty  (FindLaw documents, PDF format)
Gallery: Reactions to Walker Lindh plea 
Timeline: The John Walker Lindh case 
People in the News: John Walker Lindh profile 
Transcript of Pelton's interview with John Walker Lindh 
John Walker Lindh pleaded guilty to two charges:
  • Providing services to the Taliban
  • Carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony
  • Federal prosecutors agreed to drop other charges against him:
  • Conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals
  • Conspiracy to provide material support and resources to foreign terrorist organizations
  • Providing material support and resources to foreign terrorist organizations
  • Conspiracy to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda
  • Conspiracy to contribute services to al Qaeda
  • Contributing services to al Qaeda
  • Conspiracy to provide services to the Taliban
  • Providing material support and resources to al Qaeda
  • Using, carrying and possessing firearms and destructive devices during crimes of violence


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    Last Monday, Walker Lindh, 21, pleaded guilty to aiding the Taliban and possessing explosives in carrying out a crime.

    He is expected to be sentenced to 20 years in prison. He agreed to cooperate with U.S. intelligence officials as part of his plea agreement.

    Johnny Spann called the legal deal a disservice to U.S. fighting men. He said he was unaware of the plea negotiations, although a Justice Department official said Spann family members were informed but were not consulted for their advice.

    Spann contended Walker Lindh could have saved his son from his death at the hands of Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners.

    "Information provided to me shows that my son's death occurred immediately after attempting interrogation of John Walker Lindh, and also shows that the defendant was actively involved in this conspiracy of prisoners that planned the uprising," Spann said.

    "The facts of this case reveal that the defendant had the opportunity to withdraw from the conspiracy and warn my son Micheal that the prisoners were armed and were about to ambush him."

    "He [Walker Lindh] had a chance to surrender," Spann said. "He could have told Mike, 'I'm an American. Help me get out of here. I shouldn't be here.' But he didn't do that.

    "He gave up another opportunity to save American lives. In fact, he gave up the only opportunity he had to save Mike's life, and he [Micheal] died because of that."

    Spann continued: "I think we have a right to speak before the judge and let him know how we feel about it. It's bad enough that the thing is being dropped, that the charges have been dropped.

    "The chance that he could get less than 20 years -- it never dawned on us he would get less than a life sentence.

    "We just can't stand by and watch this without doing something."

    In exchange for Walker Lindh's guilty plea, the Justice Department agreed to drop nine more serious counts, including conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals and providing material support to terrorist organizations.

    Walker Lindh's is scheduled to be sentenced October 4 by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis in Alexandria, Virginia.




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