American-born Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh testified Monday that the U.S. government is forcing him to sin by denying his federally protected right to religious expression.

Lindh, who is serving a 20-year sentence for conspiring to kill Americans and aiding Afghanistan’s Taliban government, said it’s “absurd” that he and other Muslims housed in a highly restricted federal prison are prohibited from praying together daily.

Lindh, who was sentenced to Communication Management Unit at the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute, Ind., follows a school of Islam that requires prayer five times a day and in a group if possible. He said it’s sinful not to do so.

The 31-year-old’s testimony came during the first day of the trial in a lawsuit that began in 2009. The initial complaint filed by Lindh and two other inmates against the prison warden states the government cannot ban daily group prayer without showing it has a compelling interest.

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