SAN FRANCISCO – The parents of an American who joined Taliban fighters released a letter Tuesday in which the 20-year-old told them he was safe and apologized for not contacting them sooner.
John Walker is being held at Camp Rhino, the Marine base in southern Afghanistan. Through their lawyer, Walker's parents on Tuesday released a copy of a letter they said he apparently dictated to an International Red Cross volunteer. The letter, which the law firm e-mailed to The Associated Press, is dated Dec. 3.
"I apologize for not contacting you in such a long time. I realize this must have caused you a lot of g(rief)," reads the letter, addressed to "Dear Papa and Mama." The law firm said it inserted the words in parentheses because they were hard to read in a low-quality fax of the letter.
"I am currently alive and well in Afghanistan and I am in safe hands," Walker continued. "I cannot give you many details a(bout) my situation but it would be g(ood) to hear from you all."
The letter is signed John Lindh, his father's last name. Walker had used his mother's maiden name before he left the suburbs north of San Francisco for the Middle East. When questioned Dec. 1 following a bloody prison uprising in Mazar-e-Sharif, Walker gave his name as Abdul Hamid.
Neither of the parents, Frank Lindh and Marilyn Walker, nor their lawyer were available for comment Tuesday evening.
The parents have complained that the U.S. government has not let them talk to their son, and that Walker was not allowed outside attorneys before being questioned.
So far, Walker is the only detainee held at Camp Rhino. Marines spokesman Capt. Stewart Upton said Walker was in good condition and was recovering from dehydration and a gunshot wound in the leg.
Walker has been providing useful information, and no final decision had been made on his fate, officials have said.
He is apparently being held in a shipping container 10 feet high, 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep, set on the desert floor, surrounded by huge rolls of barbed wire and watched over by a guard tower.