Attorney General Ashcroft told reporters, ”Walker knowingly and purposely allied himself with certain terrorist organizations.”
“He chose to embrace fanatics and his allegiance to those fanatics and terrorists never faltered, not even with the knowledge that they had murdered thousands of his countrymen.”
The charges, which Ashcroft said stem from voluntary statements 20-year-old Walker made while detained in Afghanistan, do not carry the death penalty.
Ashcroft said a treason charge, which could have led to a death sentence, would have been difficult to prove. He did not, however, rule out the possibility of additional charges stemming from further investigations.
According to Ashcroft, Walker told Taliban recruiters he “was a Muslim who wanted to go to the front lines to fight.” Ashcroft said Walker spent seven weeks in an al-Qaida training camp, where he claimed to have met with Osama bin Laden, who allegedly “thanked him for taking part in jihad.”
Walker’s parents, Frank Lindh and Marilyn Walker, have said their son was a devout Muslim, but had shown no signs of the type of extremism for which he is accused.
” John is a good boy,” Frank Lindh told CNN on Dec. 3. “All I can say is that I don’t think his mind was working, I don’t think he was thinking straight at that moment. I don’t think anybody could be thinking straight after that kind of an ordeal.”
Lindh said his son was most likely fatigued and malnourished when he discussed his experiences with reporters. Walker was discovered in November after an uprising at a prison in Mazar-e-Sharif. He was found in the basement dehydrated and suffering from a gunshot wound.
Walker’s family had no immediate comment on the charges.
Although other Taliban and al-Qaida fighters may be tried by military tribunal, President Bush has said tribunals will not be used in trials of American citizens like Walker.