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Lindh Claims He's Soldier, Not Criminal

Lawyers for John Walker Lindh Monday asked a judge in Alexandria, Va., to dismiss half of the 10-count indictment against him, including one count charging the American Taliban with conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens.

Lindh, who grew up in California, committed no war crimes nor did he intend to harm U.S. forces, the motion said.

The lawyers also said he should not face four charges relating to supplying services to the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

"While the indictment alleges a nebulous and far-flung conspiracy to `kill American citizens around the world' as well as a conspiracy to kill American military personnel in Afghanistan, the alleged overt acts support only an intent to be a foot soldier" against the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, the defense said.

The murder conspiracy charge and carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The principle of "combat immunity" in armed conflict is accepted in international law, and the United States has asserted the principle for its captured soldiers, the motion filed in U.S. District Court said.

For example, the United States objected to the threatened prosecution of three U.S. infantrymen captured in Kosovo and to a threat by North Vietnam to prosecute U.S. captives as war criminals.

The defense team said four other counts - which charge Lindh with conspiracy to contribute services or with contributing services to the Taliban and to al Qaeda - should also be dropped. They argued that the regulations used for the charges were financial in nature and did not pertain to the accusations spelled out in the indictment.

"The indictment does not specify what alleged actions by Mr. Lindh the government believes constituted providing services to al Qaeda and/or the Taliban," they wrote. "The indictment alleges no actions by Mr. Lindh that might be characterized as financial, professional, or technical service to the Taliban or al Qaeda."

Judge T.S. Ellis has yet to rule on the requests. Jury selection for Lindh's trial is due to begin Aug. 26.

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