Judge Gives Guidelines For Trial of U.S. Talib

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia -- Prosecutors do not have to prove that American-born Talib John Walker Lindh personally killed CIA agent Johnny Micheal Spann or other Americans, but only that he participated in a broad conspiracy with the Taliban, a U.S. federal judge said Monday.

Responding to defense requests for thousands of documents related to Lindh's captivity in Afghanistan, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III noted that the young man is charged with engaging in a broad conspiracy.

"You are not required to show that he shot at Americans," the judge told prosecutors at a hearing on a variety of requests for information by Lindh's attorneys.

Prosecutors acknowledged Monday they do not have evidence that Lindh killed Americans in Afghanistan.

One prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Davis, said "there's no allegation of personal involvement" by Lindh in the killing of Spann, a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency agent who was slain during a prison uprising in Afghanistan at which Lindh was present.

Lindh's lawyers have said their client was held under horrific conditions after his capture in Afghanistan, and they have argued that any statements he made during that period should not be admissible. In papers filed last Friday, the government denied this, saying that his food and medical care equaled that of U.S. soldiers.

But Ellis told both sides he would hear no arguments Monday about the question of suppression of evidence.

The defense contends that Lindh spoke to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation under duress because he had been blindfolded and kept in a freezing metal container. He also was wounded in the leg during a Taliban prison uprising. His lawyers want Ellis to bar the interview as evidence.

The FBI said Lindh described his Taliban activities and admitted he had learned from an al-Qaida instructor that Osama bin Laden had sent people to the United States to carry out suicide missions.

Prosecutors argue that when interviewed, Lindh received the same quality of medical care as wounded U.S. troops, ate the same packaged meals and was given warm comforters. They deny he was bound with extra-tight restraints.

Lindh is charged with conspiring to murder U.S. nationals, providing support and services to foreign terrorist organizations and using firearms and destructive devices during crimes of violence. Three of the 10 charges carry a maximum life sentence; the other seven have prison terms of up to 90 years.