Eight jailed foreign aid workers have been allowed to hire a lawyer to defend them against charges of preaching Christianity in Afghanistan.
The decision was made after Western diplomats were permitted to visit the accused, who have been detained by Taleban authorities in Kabul since August.
Monday, Taleban officials said the aid workers -- two Americans, two Australians and four Germans -- must decide whether to defend themselves or hire lawyers before diplomats and relatives would be permitted to see them. Diplomats from the three Western countries said they need to consult with the detainees about their legal defense.
Saturday, the aid workers appeared in court for the first time to enter pleas of not guilty to spreading Christianity. They are employees of the German-based aid agency Shelter Now.
Sixteen Afghan nationals who worked with the Westerners were also arrested and will be tried separately.
The Afghans face the death penalty under the Taleban's harsh version of Islamic law. The fate of the foreigners is unclear.