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Lindh Defense to Talk With Federal Workers

Trial: Team seeks to bolster its contention that the American Talib never meant to harm his countrymen.

April 26, 2002|From the Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Two dozen federal employees who had contact with John Walker Lindh in Afghanistan or on a Navy ship have agreed to talk to the lawyers defending him on charges of conspiring to kill Americans abroad and helping terrorists, according to court documents filed Thursday.

The defense had asked to talk to 77 people they thought might support their contention that Lindh never meant to hurt his countrymen and was mistreated before he gave statements to the FBI that form the bulk of the case against him. Fifty-one military and FBI employees declined to be interviewed.

Lindh's lawyers also can seek to subpoena government employees who choose not to cooperate. They've already filed such a request in the case of a CIA employee, identified in court documents as CS-1, who was present during a prison riot in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, when CIA officer Johnny "Mike" Spann was killed and Lindh was wounded after being captured with Taliban fighters.

The eight-page report, filed by prosecutors in U.S. District Court in suburban Alexandria, Va., came as both sides told U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III they were having trouble meeting the schedule he has set.

Prosecutors already missed Tuesday's deadline for giving the defense all the evidence to which it is entitled and asked for a three-week extension. The defense wrote that the delay will put them behind schedule too, and asked Ellis to shift the Aug. 26 trial date to Sept. 16.

The defense interview requests, along with their efforts to gain access to about 20 of the Taliban and Al Qaeda detainees being held at the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, suggest that the legal team led by James Brosnahan is considering calling a large number of witnesses to describe what happened to Lindh during his stint with the Taliban and after his capture.

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