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Lindh Has Fulfilled Plea Deal, U.S. Says

Court: The 'American Talib' has cooperated, should receive 20-year term, prosecutors write.

September 28, 2002|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — John Walker Lindh, the American who pleaded guilty in July to aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan, has cooperated with authorities and should be sentenced to 20 years in prison, U.S. prosecutors said Friday.

In court documents filed a week before Lindh's Oct. 4 sentencing, prosecutors said Lindh was following through with his side of an agreement in which he pleaded guilty to two charges in exchange for the government dropping all charges related to terrorism.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys said Lindh had submitted to dozens of hours of lengthy interviews by various law enforcement and intelligence authorities.

"The government views these proceedings to date as productive and views the defendant as cooperative," prosecutors wrote. But they noted that the "principal debriefings" are not complete and said the Californian would also be subject to a polygraph test.

Prosecutors noted that Lindh knew he was breaking laws when he got involved with the Taliban.

"John Walker Lindh made choices that broke the laws of the United States, and engaged in conduct which--by his own admission--'involved, or was intended to promote, a federal crime of terrorism' " they wrote.

"For these serious crimes, Lindh now faces imprisonment for 20 years. That is, without question, a severe sentence, but one that is entirely justified and appropriate under the circumstances."

In a separate filing, defense attorneys said Lindh's family was concerned about where he would be held, and they requested that he be sent to a prison near his family's home in California where he could have educational opportunities.

They said publicity surrounding the trial had left misperceptions about their client.

"It is important, therefore that the court articulate to those responsible for Mr. Lindh's designation that, despite much public speculation to the contrary, Mr. Lindh is not a convicted terrorist, nor does he pose a threat of terrorist violence that would undoubtedly subject him to the most restrictive and severe conditions reserved for the most violent of offenders," Lindh's lawyers wrote.

In a surprise plea deal July 15, Lindh, 21, pleaded guilty to one charge of supplying services to the Taliban by fighting in support of the fundamentalist movement and to another of carrying explosives while committing a felony.

At the hearing, Lindh said he provided his services as a soldier to the Taliban from August to December last year. "I did so knowingly and willingly, knowing that it was illegal," he said in court.

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