Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that John Walker, an American captured fighting for the Taliban, will have “all the rights he is due.”
20-year-old Walker left Northern California after graduating from an alternative high school at the age of 17, moving to Yemen. He joined the Taliban about six months ago, during the summer.
His father, Frank Lindh, appeared exclusively on CNN’s “Larry King Live” and said that he hired a lawyer to represent his son. Lindh called his son a “good boy.” He said that Walker didn’t go to “make war against his own country.” Walker had been involved with the Taliban before the Sept. 11 attacks.
Lindh also said that he doesn’t think his son is a traitor. Rumsfeld has drawn no conclusions on Walker being a traitor, and says that he hasn’t gotten around to thinking what Walker’s status is.
Walker surrendered in Mazar-e Sharif after a revolt of Taliban prisoners last week. He suffered a bullet wound, and was hit by shrapnel in the uprising. Currently, Walker is in the custody of U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan.
While in an Afghan hospital this weekend, Walker spoke to journalists saying that he supported the Sept. 11 attacks. Lindh claims that his son was under duress, and was disoriented when he made those comments.
Walker converted to Islam at the age of 16 after reading the works of Malcolm X. He told CNN, “I started reading some of the literature of their scholars and the history of the movement, and my heart became attached to them.”
“What I know is that a couple of others have contended they are Americans. Whether they are Americans and where they may be, I don’t know,” Rumsfield said.
The State Department checked Walker’s passport to confirm his citizenship. They are trying to get in touch with Walker’s mother, who is listed as his emergency contact.