Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

US Taliban Fighter in Court as US Builds More X-Ray Cells

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

US Taliban Fighter in Court as US Builds More X-Ray Cells

Article excerpt

Byline: HUGH MUIR

AMERICA moved to a heightened state of alert today as John Walker Lindh, the American citizen who joined the Taliban, appeared in court for the first time.

Tensions were also raised by the announcement that US officials are now interrogating al Qaeda suspects at Camp X-Ray in Cuba about their terrorist training.

Security is being stepped up around Government buildings as 20-year-old Walker prepares to face charges that he conspired to kill US nationals and aided Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. If convicted, he could be jailed but many believe he will also face treason charges which carry the death penalty.

He arrived at Washington's Dulles airport last night and was led from the plane, flanked by guards, with his legs shackled and arms cuffed. He is being

held at a high-security FBI facility.

US marshal John Hackman said: "We're dealing with all types of different security threats under consideration; use your imagination."

President George W Bush has said that as a US citizen, Mr Walker should be tried in a domestic civilian court, rather than being sent to Camp X-Ray on Guantanamo Bay to face the military tribunals proposed for other prisoners.

Walker was found among prisoners at Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan who staged the bloody uprising in which CIA operative Johnny "Mike" Spann was killed.

The charges against him are based almost entirely on his own words to American interrogators overseas and to CNN.

The state's main prosecutor is expected to be David Kelley, who secured convictions of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers, also linked to Bin Laden.

However, Walker already has a high-powered defence team led by Virginia lawyer William Cummings, who represented the wife of convicted spy Aldrich Ames. He said statements by his client may never reach court. "Ninety nine point nine percent of the case is based upon his statement and so suppression would be high on the list. …

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