The 20-year-old Walker was charged last week with conspiring to kill Americans abroad and providing support to the al-Qaida terrorist network, the group the U.S. says was behind the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
U.S. Magistrate Judge W. Curtis Sewell set a preliminary hearing date of Feb. 6 to decide whether Walker will remain in custody.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Kelley said authorities should continue to hold Walker because of worries he might escape or could pose a danger to the community.
Attorney James Brosnahan, one of four lawyers hired by Walker’s parents, said Walker had not learned of the charges against him until yesterday.
Walker stood before the court wearing a green prison jumpsuit, his long hair and beard shorn, and glanced at prosecutors as they outlined the charges against him.
When Sewell asked whether he understood the penalties he could face, including life in prison, he responded, “Yes I do, sir.”
Walker’s parents, Frank Lindh and Marilyn Walker, sat in the courtroom during the proceedings. They had met privately with their son and his attorney before the hearing.
“It’s been two years since I last saw my son. It was wonderful to see him this morning. My love for him is unconditional and absolute,” Marilyn Walker told reporters. “I am grateful that he has been brought home to his family, me, his home and his country.”
Walker’s parents maintain their son is innocent of the charges against him.
“John loves America,” Frank Lindh told reporters. “We love America. John did not do anything against America. He never meant to harm any American. He never did harm any American. John is innocent of these charges.”
Announcing the charges against John Walker Lindh last week, Attorney General John Ashcroft said the U.S. believes Walker intentionally allied himself with the Taliban and al-Qaida.
“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,” Ashcroft said.
According to Ashcroft, Walker told Taliban recruiters he “was a Muslim who wanted to go to the front lines to fight.” Ashcroft also 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 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.
He had been held in Afghanistan and then aboard the USS Bataan after he was captured in early December. Walker was flown under heavy guard to the U.S. Wednesday.