WASHINGTON – John Walker, the 20-year-old American Taliban fighter who surrendered to U.S. forces in Afghanistan, was moved Friday to a Navy ship in the Arabian Sea, U.S. officials said.
He is "safe and being well cared for," Gen. Tommy Franks, the U.S. war commander, told a news conference.
Franks said Walker was flown to the USS Peleliu, the lead ship of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, off the coast of Pakistan.
Walker had been held as the lone prisoner in a makeshift detention center at Camp Rhino, a U.S. Marine forward operating base in southern Afghanistan, after surrendering to rebel forces at Mazar-e-Sharif. He has been recovering from a gunshot wound in his leg, suffered in a prison uprising.
"I can't tell you when he may be turned back to the United States," Franks said. "We'll continue to control him on the Peleliu until a determination is made regarding whether we handle him within the military (judicial) community or whether he is handled on the civilian side, and that determination has not yet been made. But he is on the Peleliu, safe and being well-cared for."
The Bush administration has not announced a timetable for deciding what to do with Walker, who is from California.
The Defense Department has classified him as a "battlefield detainee."
Franks would not discuss the value of information Walker may have provided during interrogations at Camp Rhino.
Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday that Walker has been providing information to U.S. interrogators.
"He's been pretty close to the action, and he has provided from the Afghan perspective some useful information," Myers said.