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Civilian Translator Arrested in Latest Suspected Guantanamo Security Breach - 2003-09-30


A civilian translator who worked at the U.S. prison camp for terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba has been arrested, the third arrest related to suspected security breaches at the facility.

The latest man arrested is Ahmed Mehalba, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Egyptian descent. According to the Department of Homeland Security, Mr. Mehalba, a contract linguist for the military, was detained after arriving in Boston on a flight from Cairo. Officials discovered in his possession at least one compact disc which they say contained information that appeared to be classified.

Pentagon officials tell VOA Mr. Mehalba was among a group of workers at the Guantanamo facility who had been under suspicion for some time for illegal activities.

Two others in the suspect group, a Muslim Army chaplain and a senior U.S. airman, had been detained earlier.

Defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, say still others remain under investigation. But they decline to say how many and what illegal activities they are suspected of involvement in.

The Muslim Army chaplain, Captain James Yee, is suspected of spying but no formal charges have been filed against him.

The airman, Ahmad al-Halabi, served as an Arabic language translator at the Guantanamo prison camp, where some 660 suspected al-Qaida terrorists and Taleban fighters are held. According to military documents made available to VOA, he faces a variety of charges, including aiding the enemy and espionage.

The documents claim he took unauthorized photographs of the detention facility, had unauthorized communications with detainees and illegally passed on detainee information to Middle Eastern sources.

Despite the latest arrest, defense officials are dismissing as "speculation" any suggestion that there was a spy ring at Guantanamo acting on behalf of the detainees held there.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, a prominent U.S. Muslim activist involved with the military's Muslim chaplain program has also been arrested.

Abdurahman Alamoudi was detained in Washington after arriving on a flight from London. U.S. officials say he illegally accepted money from Libya.

Pentagon officials last week disclosed the Defense Department will conduct a review of how Muslim chaplains are recruited.

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