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US Army Drops Charges Against Muslim Chaplain - 2004-03-20

The United States military has dropped all criminal charges against an Army Muslim chaplain who ministered to Afghanistan war detainees at the U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

An Army spokesman said late Friday that charges of mishandling classified information against Captain James Yee have been dismissed.

In a statement, the Commander of the Guantanamo detention facility, General Geoffrey D. Miller, said the charges were dropped because of national security concerns that could arise from the release of evidence.

Captain Yee, also known as Youssef Yee, was taken into custody last September at Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida, after returning from Guantanamo. He was initially held on suspicion of espionage. However, the military later charged him with mishandling classified data, as well as lesser charges of adultery and storing pornographic material on a government computer.

Captain Yee still faces a non-judicial hearing on the adultery and pornography charges, but that proceeding will not involve any criminal charges.

The Arabic-speaking chaplain's job at the Guantanamo Bay prison was to provide religious counseling to more than 600 prisoners captured during the Afghanistan war.

Captain Yee is expected to return to his previous duty station in the northwestern U.S. state of Washington.