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Accused American Taliban Fighter Indicted

Today’s indictment, announced by Attorney General John Ashcroft, adds four new charges, including conspiring to provide support for the al-Qaida terrorist network, headed by Osama bin Laden, and the Taliban, the former ruling militia of Afghanistan accused of harboring bin Laden.

Lindh was also charged with using and carrying firearms and destructive devices during crimes of violence. He could face several life terms if convicted, Ashcroft said, but none of the charges carries the death penalty.

The indictment also formalizes charges against Walker made in a criminal complaint last month, including conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals and engaging in prohibited transactions with the Taliban.

Ashcroft said the indictment refers to Lindh as “an al-Qaida-trained terrorist who conspired with the Taliban to kill his fellow citizens.”

The indictment alleges Lindh spent the weeks after Sept. 11 “with his Taliban fighting group, [where] he remained despite having learned of the terrorist attacks on his homeland, despite knowing that Osama bin Laden was responsible for those attacks and despite the knowledge that additional terrorist attacks and acts were planned,” Ashcroft said.

Lindh has not yet entered a plea, but his family has claimed he is innocent.

Asked today about whether Lindh could face treason charges, which carry a possible death penalty, U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty told reporters, “As far as other charges, we have the opportunity or right to have a superseding indictment if the evidence justifies that.”

Earlier today, Lindh’s lawyers asked U.S. Magistrate Judge W. Curtis Sewell to allow their client’s release pending trial.

Lindh has remained in custody since he was discovered in an Afghan prison after a bloody uprising in November. His lawyers say there’s no evidence the 20-year-old Lindh, who has no previous criminal record, poses a flight risk or a danger to the community. They asked that he be released in his father’s custody.

A hearing is scheduled Wednesday to consider Lindh’s status.

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