American Taliban asks for early release


Lawyers for John Walker Lindh make a public appeal for mercy.

The parents of the Marin County man known as "The American Taliban" are asking President Bush to commute his 20 year sentence. They're asking for mercy this holiday season.

Please Mr. President, show mercy for our son and to our family," said John Lindh's mother Marilyn Walker.

John Walker Lindh has already served seven years. He was sentenced in 2002 after pleading guilty to aiding the Taliban as an armed combatant.

Lindh's legal team believes there is hope because Mr. Bush spoke sympathetically about him when he was captured.

"The President of the United States, in an interview on television, referred to John as that poor boy. And I think that was sincere," said Lindh's attorney James Brosnahan.

Lindh grew up in Marin County and as a teenager he converted to Islam. When he turned 21, Lindh joined the Taliban to fight in Afghanistan's civil war.

Brosnahan says Lindh never battled American troops and all terrorism charges were subsequently dropped against him. He added other people who pleaded guilty to similar charges received much shorter sentences.

One of them is Australian David Hicks who also joined the Taliban.

"Mr. Hicks was released from custody last December. He ended up six years in custody altogether," said Lindh's attorney Raj Chatterjee.

"Mike believed in the justice system. he died for it," said Johnny Spann.

Spann's son Mike was a CIA agent killed in an Afghanistan prison uprising seven years ago. Spann believes Lindh must take part of the responsibility for his son's death.

Frank Lindh addressed that on Wednesday.

"Mike Spann died a hero, but John Lindh had nothing to do with his death," said Frank Lindh.

Spann spoke to ABC7 News by phone from his home in Alabama.

"That's about like saying that O.J. Simpson didn't have anything to do with his wife's death," said Spann.

Ernesto Estrada was a Marine who was stationed on one of the ships which brought Lindh home from Afghanistan.

This vet believes Lindh has served enough time.

"There is a crime, so I don't think he should be pardoned, but whether the punishment fits the so-called crime, I think there is a difference there," said Estrada.

This is the fifth time John Lindh's attorneys have filed requests for commutation. Each time, there's been no response from the White House.

Lindh is serving his time at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

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