American Taliban seeks clemency

John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban arrested from Afghanistan, has appealed to US President George Bush to commute his 20-year jail term.

    John Walker Lindh is serving a 20-year jail sentence

    The appeal was made after another US Taliban supporter Yassir Esam Hamdi was released from US detention for repatriation to Saudi Arabia after spending three years in isolation.

    "Mr Hamdi is comparable in many ways to John Lindh, which is what causes us to believe that it is basically unfair to have Mr Lindh serve the rest of his sentence when Mr Hamdi will be released," James Brosnahan, a lawyer for Lindh, said.

    Similarities

    Like Hamdi, Lindh is a US citizen arrested while fighting alongside the Taliban after US forces invaded Afghanistan in December 2001.

    Hamdi had been held incommunicado as an ''enemy combatant'' by US forces, while Lindh, now 20, was charged and later struck a plea bargain with civilian prosecutors that saw him jailed for 20 years.

    Lindh reportedly fought alongside
    the Taliban 

    Unlike Hamdi, who also holds Saudi nationality, Lindh has no intention of leaving the country.

    "He's American," said Brosnahan. The lawyer also said Lindh was never a supporter of terror or al-Qaida's network.

    "He was a young man in the wrong place at the wrong time and he was there for genuine and sincere religious reasons," he said.

    Because Lindh's case is so similar to that of Hamdi, he deserves to see his 20-year sentence imposed in 2002 drastically reduced, the lawyer said.

    "When you look at that it seems to us that it's a matter of justice and compassion for the president to reduce John's sentence," Brosnahan said.

    Brosnahan said fears of terrorism and anger after the September 11 attacks were running very high when Lindh was sentenced at a northern Virgina court.

    "This is a young man that we got a wrong view of in the heat of the moment," he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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