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Judge: Direct Evidence Not Needed In US Taleban Case - 2002-04-01

Prosecutors in the case of John Walker Lindh, the young American captured with the Taleban last year, acknowledged Monday that they do not have direct evidence that he sought to kill Americans in Afghanistan. But the judge in the case says that may not be necessary to get a conviction.

Pressed by Judge T.S. Ellis on whether the government's case against John Walker Lindh includes evidence of attempts to kill Americans, prosecutor David Kelly said, "At the moment, I am not aware of it."

A second prosecutor added that the government is not alleging that John Walker Lindh was involved in the murder of CIA agent Johnny Michael Spann. Agent Spann was killed in a prison uprising after he attempted to interview Mr. Lindh.

But Judge Ellis told prosecutors that they were not required to show that John Walker Lindh actually shot at Americans in making their case, but only that he participated in a broad conspiracy with the Taleban. Mr. Lindh faces 10 charges, including conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens and providing support to terrorist organizations.

Also during Monday's hearing, the judge told prosecutors to provide defense lawyers with any information they turn up that might prove favorable to their client. But Judge Ellis also ruled that many of the defense requests for information from prosecutors were too broad.

Another hearing has been scheduled for the end of May to determine exactly which U.S. officials or soldiers will be made available to John Walker Lindh's attorneys for interviews.

Judge Ellis did not rule on a defense request that statements made by John Walker Lindh while in U.S. custody in Afghanistan be barred as evidence. Defense lawyers contend their client made the statements after being tortured, a charge the government denies.