SPY CASES - UNITED STATES

Guantanamo Bay Suspects

As this multifaceted investigation played out, serious doubts exist about the nature of the espionage allegations initially made against one or more of the individuals concerned.

Materials arranged chronologically.

CNN. "Sources: Muslim Chaplain's Arrest Prompts U.S. Probe." 22 Sep. 2003. [http://www.cnn.com]

Bush administration sources have said that "[a] military and intelligence investigation into possible security breaches at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is under way following the arrest of a U.S. Army Islamic chaplain." Capt. James Yee "has not been charged, [but] is being held in the brig in Charleston, South Carolina, on suspicion of espionage and treason."

Vogel, Steve, and John Mintz. "Translator Accused of Spying: U.S. Airman Worked With Guantanamo Detainees." Washington Post, 24 Sep. 2003, A1. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

According to officials on 23 September 2003, Senior Airman Ahmad I. Halabi, "[a] U.S. Air Force translator who worked with al Qaeda and Taliban detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison[,] has been charged with spying for Syria." Military authorities allege that Halabi "attempted to deliver sensitive information to Syria, including more than 180 notes from prisoners, a map of the installation, the movement of military aircraft to and from the base, intelligence documents and the names and cellblock numbers of captives at the prison in Cuba." See also, Rowan Scarborough and Steve Miller, "Airman Accused of Terror Spying," Washington Times, 24 Sep. 2003 and Eric Schmitt, "Airman Is Charged as Spy for Syria at Guantanamo Camp," New York Times, 24 Sep. 2003.

Starr, Barbara, and Terry Frieden. "Officials: Guantanamo Translator Arrested." CNN, 30 Sep. 2003. [http://www.cnn.com]

According to U.S. officials, Ahmed Mehalba, a civilian translator for the Titan Corporation who worked at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was arrested on 29 September 2003 "after immigration officials at Boston's Logan Airport found what are alleged to be classified materials in his possession..... Mehalba is the third person arrested in what appears to be a widening investigation of possible espionage at the base where suspected al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists are held." See also, Neil A. Lewis, "Guantanamo Inquiry Widens as Civilian Translator Is Held," New York Times, 1 Oct. 2003.

CNN. "Officer Accused of Mishandling Intelligence Data; Colonel Assigned to Guantanamo Faces Two Charges." 29 Nov. 2003. [http://www.cnn.com]

According to U.S. Central Command on 29 November 2003, Col. Jack Farr, "[a]n Army intelligence officer assigned to a task force guarding al Qaeda and Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been charged with improperly handling classified material and lying to investigators probing the alleged security breach."

Lewis, Neil A., and Thom Shanker. "Missteps Seen in Muslim Chaplain's Spy Case." New York Times, 4 Jan. 2004. [http://www.nytimes.com]

"First held on suspicion of being part of an espionage ring, Captain [James J.] Yee, 35, was in the end charged with the far less serious crime of mishandling classified information. He was also eventually charged with adultery and keeping pornography on his government computer, both violations of military law."

Lewis, Neil A. "Charges Dropped against Chaplain." New York Times, 20 Mar. 2004. [http://www.nytimes.com]

A statement released from U.S. Southern Command in Miami on 19 March 2004 says that the military is "dropping all charges, including one of mishandling classified information, against Capt. James J. Yee, the former Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

Lane, Charles. "Air Force Spy Trial to Proceed Despite Modified Evidence." Washington Post, 12 Sep. 2004, A9. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

With a military espionage trial against Senior Airman Ahmad al Halabi, a former Air Force translator at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, ready to begin on 14 September 2004, the Air Force acknowledged last week "that only one of the more than 200 documents it had accused ... Halabi of plotting to smuggle into Syria was classified.

"The concession is the latest government retrenchment in a series of cases that last year led investigators to suspect a possible spy ring at the prison..., and resulted in the arrests of two U.S. servicemen and a contract translator, all of them Muslim. Earlier this year, the government dropped all charges against Capt. James Yee, a Muslim Army chaplain.... A third man, Ahmed Fathy Mehalba, a former civilian translator at Guantanamo Bay, faces trial in a Boston federal court."

Golden, Tim. "How Dubious Evidence Spurred Relentless Guantánamo Spy Hunt." New York Times, 19 Dec. 2004. [http://www.nytimes.com]

"[C]onfidential government documents, court files and interviews show that the investigations" into suspicious behavior by a Muslim chaplain and others at the Guantánamo prison "drew significantly on questionable evidence and disparate bits of information that ... linked Captain [James J.] Yee tenuously to people suspected of being Muslim militants in the United States and abroad."

Finer, Jonathan. "Interpreter Pleads Guilty to Taking Data." Washington Post, 11 Jan. 2005, A6. [http://www.washingtonpost.com]

On 10 January 2005, Ahmed F. Mehalba, a former civilian interpreter at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, pleaded guilty to "lying to government agents and removing classified documents....

"Mehalba ... was one of four people accused of security breaches at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.... Ahmad I. Halabi, an Air Force senior airman who had served as an interpreter..., pleaded guilty to four lesser crimes. Army Capt. James Yee, a Muslim chaplain,... was found guilty only of minor administrative charges of adultery and storing pornography on a government computer. And in September, the Army dropped charges against Reserve Col. Jackie Duane Farr, an intelligence officer who was accused of trying to remove classified documents."

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