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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 March, 2004, 02:09 GMT
Pentagon drops chaplain charges
Captain James, or Yousef Yee
Yee will be allowed to return to his previous duty station, say officials
Criminal charges have been dropped against a Muslim US Army chaplain who ministered to al-Qaeda suspects in Guantanamo Bay, the Pentagon has said.

The US Army abandoned all charges of mishandling classified information against Capt James Yee, or Yousef Yee.

Lesser charges of violating military law by committing adultery and storing pornographic images were also dropped.

Military officials said the case was dropped because of "national security concerns" if the evidence was released.

Capt Yee was arrested in September as he arrived at a Florida naval base.

Customs officials became suspicious of documents found in his baggage, officials said at the time.

In October, Capt Yee was charged with two counts of failing to obey orders - specifically, for taking classified material to his home.

A month later, he faced fresh charges, including adultery - a crime under US military justice - making a false statement and storing pornography on a government computer.

Return to duty

Major General Geoffrey Miller, commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, cited "national security concerns that would arise from the release of evidence" as the reason for dropping the case.

The US Southern Command - which oversees Guantanamo Bay - said Capt Yee would be allowed to return to his previous duty station at Fort Lewis, near Tacoma in Washington.

US Army soldier guards detainees at Guantanamo Bay, January 2002
Yee was working as a chaplain with inmates at Guantanamo Bay
It said Capt Yee would be offered non-judicial punishment for the adultery and pornography allegations.

This means he will not have to face a court martial, but may be fined, reprimanded or put under house arrest.

A Chinese-American, Capt Yee converted to Islam while serving in Saudi Arabia following the 1991 Gulf war.

He then left the US military and lived in Syria, where he studied Islam, before rejoining the army and being appointed to work with detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.

His arrest led to concerns about security at the military prison, where more than 600 suspected Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters have been held for over two years.

The BBC's Nick Childs
"On the face of it this looks like an embarrassing climb-down"

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