Lindh surprises court with guilty plea

John Walker Lindh, the US citizen charged with aiding the Taliban and al-Qaida, today changed his plea to guilty.

John Walker Lindh, the US citizen charged with aiding the Taliban and al-Qaida, today changed his plea to guilty.

Mr Lindh, originally from California, was discovered among Taliban prisoners captured in Afghanistan last December. With long hair, and beard, he gave a hospital bed interview describing his allegiance to the Taliban.

In military interrogations, he also claimed to have met Osama bin Laden once, government lawyers claim.

It was those statements that his lawyers were seeking this week to keep out of the trial before a deal was reached last night.

But in court today Mr Lindh's defence attorney, James Brosnahan, told US district judge TS Ellis III: "There is a change in plea."

Mr Brosnahan did not give details the specific pleas to each count or the terms of the deal.

The charges against Mr Lindh, whose trial was due to begin on August 26, include conspiracy to murder US citizens, contributing services to al-Qaida and the Taliban and using firearms during crimes of violence.

Three of the 10 counts carry maximum terms of life imprisonment for Mr Lindh, who was captured in early December and transferred to civilian custody in late January.

Today's plea decision surprised even the judge, who had opened the hearing by discussing procedures for protecting the identity of confidential witnesses in the proceedings planned for this week.

Mr Lindh's parents were in the courtroom in Alexandria, Virgina, for the announcement. Mr Lindh sat expressionless at the defence table in his green prison jumpsuit as his lawyer made the announcement.

Staff and agencies

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Shaven, sluggish Lindh appears in court
John Walker Lindh, the Californian captured while fighting with the Taliban, finally appeared in public in his home country yesterday.

Matthew Engel in Alexandria

25, Jan, 2002 @2:09 AM

Article image
America's 'detainee 001' – the persecution of John Walker Lindh
Frank Lindh, father of 'American Taliban' John Walker Lindh, explains why his son is an innocent victim of America's 'war on terror'

Frank Lindh

10, Jul, 2011 @4:08 PM

Article image
American who fought for Taliban freed early from US prison
John Walker Lindh released, though some politicians say he may still be security risk

Oliver Laughland in New York

23, May, 2019 @5:37 PM

Suspected US Taliban fighter was tortured, say lawyers
A photograph showing the suspected US Taliban fighter, John Lindh, bound and blindfolded proves that he was tortured into confessing, his lawyers told a Virginia court this week.

Oliver Burkeman in New York

03, Apr, 2002 @1:42 AM

I was tortured by US troops, says Taliban American
Lawyers for John Walker Lindh, the American who fought with the Taliban, claim he was systematically brutalised and threatened with 'torture and death' after US troops seized him.

Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor

24, Mar, 2002 @2:33 AM

Walker Lindh's lawyers will seek prison release
Lawyers representing John Walker Lindh, the US citizen captured with Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan, will today ask for him to be released from jail.

Simon Jeffery

06, Feb, 2002 @2:30 PM

US Taliban fighter admits guilt
The American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh accepted the certainty of a 20-year jail sentence yesterday by changing his plea to guilty on two of the 10 charges he faced.

Matthew Engel, Washington

16, Jul, 2002 @1:01 AM

Court plea for Briton in Guantanamo Bay
The mother of a 22-year-old British man who has been held without charge for seven months in Guantanamo Bay took the UK government to court yesterday and accused it of failing to intervene on her son's behalf, leaving him in a legal blackhole.

Audrey Gillan

11, Sep, 2002 @9:12 AM

Paris court jails Islamic militants
A Paris court yesterday convicted five Islamic militants of providing logistic support to the killers of Afghan anti-Taliban commander Ahmed Shah Massood, or recruiting young Muslims for Afghan training camps.

Associated Press in Paris

17, May, 2005 @11:05 PM

Taliban haul 'exhausted' aid workers before court
The spartan walls of Kabul's Supreme Court are decorated with verses from the Koran. And just so there is no doubt as to the kind of justice on offer, two swords and a leather strap used for public beatings are fixed above the judge's chair.

Luke Harding, South Asia correspondent

09, Sep, 2001 @10:32 PM