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Parents of Lindh await return of son

By Margie Mason The Associated Press
Wednesday January 16, 2002

SAN RAFAEL — The parents of John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban who now faces charges that could lead to life in prison, said Tuesday they are eager to be reunited and to “give him the love and support he needs.” 

Marilyn Walker and Frank Lindh expressed thanks to U.S. military officials for the medical care their son has received since being captured in December in Afghanistan but concern about their inability to contact him for the past six weeks. 

“We are anxious to see him, to know his condition first-hand and to tell him we love him,” the parents said in a statement issued through their attorney. “We now hope that we will see our son soon and give him the love and support he needs. 

“We are grateful to live in a nation that presumes innocence and withholds judgment until all of the facts are presented, and we pray for a just resolution of this case.” 

Lindh, 20, who fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan, was charged Tuesday with conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens. He will be tried in a civilian court and could face life in prison.  

After weeks of deliberations, the Bush administration opted against a military trial or charges that would carry the death penalty. 

Steven Hyland, who met Lindh in 1998 when the Californian studied at the Yemen Language Center, said in a phone interview from his Texas home that he was not happy with the severity of the charges facing Lindh. 

“I am concerned for the kid. He was a very naive kid, and now 3 1/2 years later he is looking at 60 years incarceration,” Hyland said. 

A lawyer in the office that includes James Brosnahan, the attorney hired by Lindh’s parents, called on government officials to “cease their public speculation about this case and respect the presumption of innocence and the fair procedures that our constitution guarantees to all American citizens.” 

The lawyer, George C. Harris, and Lindh’s parents said in prepared statements that Lindh had been interrogated repeatedly during six weeks in U.S. custody, but has not been given access to an attorney. 

“The government has held and interrogated John for 45 days without allowing him any messages from his family or access to his attorney. We have written numerous letters to John since his capture on Dec. 1,” the parents said. 

“In those letters, we told John that we love him and support him. We also told him that he has a lawyer who is trying to see him and help him.”