'American Taliban' was mistreated, claim lawyers

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The Independent US

Lawyers for John Walker Lindh, the 20-year-old American citizen accused of fighting with the Taliban and al-Qa'ida in Afghanistan, yesterday released an image of Mr Lindh in custody, bound and blindfolded.

Taken in December at the US military's Camp Rhino in Kandahar, they say it supports their claim that he was mistreated while in custody. He is shown naked, seemingly tied to a stretcher with straps around his chest and his wrists, with his eyes covered with what appears to be tape or a blindfold.

James Brosnahan, a lawyer of Mr Lindh, said: "The government had said that they treated John the same as American soldiers. The picture might indicate to the casual observer that that was not the case."

Prosecutors said on Friday that Mr Lindh was not tortured after his capture, and said he got medical aid, better sleeping conditions than his doctor, healthy meals and a haircut.

A judge said yesterday that prosecutors need not prove that Mr Lindh killed Americans but they had to show he knowingly belonged to groups that had this aim. Mr Lindh, who converted to Islam as a teenager, could face life in jail if convicted. The trial is set to begin in August.