A Muslim Army chaplain arrested last year on charges of mishandling classified documents at a prison camp for terror suspects was reprimanded Monday only on minor charges. His lawyer said he deserved an apology.
“Of course I am disappointed in the outcome,” Capt. James Yee, 35, said after the Article 15 proceeding, used by the Army to settle minor disciplinary issues. He will appeal the reprimand.
The commanding officer at the Guantanamo Bay base, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, found Yee guilty of two violations of military law — adultery and improperly downloading pornography onto an Army computer. In an Article 15 proceeding, a finding of guilt does not result in a criminal conviction.
Miller had the option of imposing 30 days’ arrest in quarters, 60 days on restriction and a loss of one-half of a month’s pay for a maximum of two months. He issued only a reprimand.
Espionage case falls apart
Yee, a Muslim convert, spent 76 days in custody after the military initially linked him to a possible espionage ring at Guantanamo. But the government failed to build a capital espionage case against him.
He was eventually charged with mishandling classified material, failing to obey an order, making a false official statement, adultery and conduct unbecoming an officer. He could have faced 14 years if convicted.
On Friday, the Army dismissed all criminal charges, saying national security concerns prevented them from seeking a court-martial in open court.
Yee’s attorney, Eugene Fidell, said he believes Yee’s Muslim faith led authorities to improperly suspect him, calling Yee “a victim of an incredible drive-by act of legal violence.”
'Growing sense of horror'
“There’s no effective remedy other than the court of public opinion,” Fidell said. “People concerned with the military justice system have watched this case with a growing sense of horror.”
Yee was arrested Sept. 10 as he arrived at a Jacksonville, Fla., naval base from Guantanamo carrying what authorities said were classified documents. Some of the documents were taken from his backpack, and others came from his laptop and his quarters at Guantanamo, officials said.
Fidell said Monday he does not believe the information Yee possessed was classified, and expressed concern the Army will never reveal why it was suspicious of Yee in the first place.
Fidell said he expects Yee to return to his home base of Fort Lewis, Wash., and resume his duties as chaplain.