Marcio Jose Sanchez  /  AP
Senior Airman Ahmad Al Halabi , middle, leaves court for a Thursday lunch break with his father Ibrahim, right, and members of his defense team in Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
updated 9/23/2004 9:46:25 PM ET 2004-09-24T01:46:25

A Muslim interpreter convicted of mishandling classified documents from the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay was given a bad-conduct discharge Thursday — but won’t have to spend more time behind bars.

A military judge announced the sentence after a hearing in which Senior Airman Ahmad Al Halabi, 25, made an impassioned plea for leniency. He told the judge keeping the documents was a mistake and said he would never do anything to hurt the Air Force or the United States.

There was no immediate reaction from Al Halabi or military prosecutors to the decision by Air Force Col. Barbara Brand.

The former supply clerk pleaded guilty Wednesday to wrongfully taking pictures, lying about it and mishandling classified information.

In exchange for Al Halabi’s plea, the military dropped an attempted espionage charge. It marked the third such case against accused spies at Guantanamo Bay to fall apart this year.

“I have dedicated my life to the United States, my country,” the 25-year-old native Syrian told the judge earlier in the day. “I never, ever would do anything to hurt the Air Force, my country, my family.”

The judge sentenced Al Halabi to 295 days in jail but gave him credit for time served, meaning he will not spend additional time behind bars. Al Halabi’s pay grade also will be reduced to the lowest level.

Al Halabi was accused of trying to deliver messages from prisoners at Guantanamo to his homeland. He was arrested last July as he headed to Syria to get married.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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