Skip to main content /US /US

No immediate charges for second U.S. Taliban suspect

Suspected Taliban loyalist Yasser Esam Hamdi, center, is now being held in U.S. military custody in Virginia.
Suspected Taliban loyalist Yasser Esam Hamdi, center, is now being held in U.S. military custody in Virginia.  

From Kelli Arena and Terry Frieden
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Justice Department officials said Tuesday they have no immediate plans to file criminal charges against so-called American Taliban suspect Yasser Esam Hamdi.

But the officials did not rule out bringing charges later if information develops showing Hamdi may have violated U.S. criminal laws.

Hamdi, 22, remains in U.S. military custody at Norfolk Naval Air Station in Virginia. Captured last year in a prison uprising near Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan, Hamdi was held with detainees at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before it was determined he was born in the United States.

U.S. officials said they presume he is an American based on a birth certificate, but his citizenship status remains unclear.

Officials noted differences between Hamdi's case and that of John Walker Lindh, another American accused of fighting for the ousted Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

So far, say government sources, there is no factual basis to bring criminal charges against Yasser Hamdi in civilian court. CNN's Kelli Arena reports [April 9)

Play video

Walker Lindh, 21, of California also was captured in the Mazar-e Sharif uprising. He has been charged with conspiring to murder U.S. nationals, providing support and services to foreign terrorist organizations and using firearms and destructive devices during crimes of violence.

Walker Lindh's defense attorneys contend that U.S. military officials, who held the Californian for several weeks last winter, mistreated their client and altered interrogation reports to make him look guilty. Prosecutors deny the allegations.

A U.S. official said Tuesday that no witnesses have emerged detailing Hamdi's actions.

U.S. interrogators have interviewed Hamdi, and sources said he maintains he was fighting against the Northern Alliance, not the United States.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said no conclusions have been drawn on how to proceed in the Hamdi case.

"I would not say that Justice is not interested in prosecuting him," Rumsfeld said Monday at a Pentagon briefing. "I think that's the kind of thing that, as you detain a person and gather more knowledge about that person -- from that person or from other people, then judgments may change and you may make a decision as to how you want to handle somebody.

"And I think it's a little early to be concluding that any judgment like that would be conclusive."




Back to the top