A U-S federal judge has ruled that a journalist must testify about his interview with John Walker Lindh, the American Taleban fighter captured in Afghanistan, who now faces trial in the United States.
U-S District Court Judge T-S Ellis on Friday rejected arguments by freelance reporter Robert Pelton that his rights to gather news could be harmed, if he is compelled to testify at Mr. Lindh's pretrial hearing next week in Alexandria, Virginia.
Judge Ellis ruled that U-S constitutional free speech protections do not extend to journalists the privilege not to give testimony, except in special circumstances, such as protection of confidential sources.
However, the judge said he will reevaluate whether Mr. Pelton's testimony is still needed, after other witnesses appear at the July 15 hearing.
Mr. Pelton was working on assignment for C-N-N (Cable News Network) in December 2001, when he interviewed John Walker Lindh, who was lying wounded in a prison hospital in (Sheberghan) Afghanistan after being captured by U-S troops.
During the interview, the captured American described his involvement with the Taleban and training he had received at a camp run by accused terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
Mr. Lindh's lawyers are trying to prevent the videotape from being introduced as prosecution evidence in his upcoming trial.
Mr. Lindh has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges, including conspiring to murder Americans. He faces life in prison, if convicted.
Mr. Walker's lawyers have argued that the reporter was acting as an agent of the U-S government when he conducted the interview because he was traveling with U-S Special Forces troops at the time. They say Mr. Lindh should have been read his legal rights before he was interviewed.