Translator charged with espionage in Guantanamo

2003 September 25

Ahmad al-Halabi, who worked as an Arabic translator at the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been arrested and charged with espionage by the US Army. Word of al-Halab's bust comes just days after Army Muslim chaplain James Yee, who ministered to al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners at the Gitmo camp, was detained on suspicion of spying.

Three other members of the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay - including an Army soldier, a member of the Navy and a Marine Corps contractor - are under investigation for possessing classified information and improper contact with prisoners.

Al-Halabi, who is normally assigned to a logistics unit at the Travis Air Force Base in California, was arrested July 23 in Jacksonville, Fla., after working for months as a Guantanamo translator.

The airman, who was believed to be on his way to Syria, was carrying two handwritten notes from detainees, details of flights to and from Guantanamo, Cuba, and details of prisoner interrogations, sources said.

Al-Halabi's laptop computer contained 180 messages from detainees to be sent to Syria or Qatar, the government says. He's also accused of photographing the prison camp and not reporting contacts with the Syrian Embassy in Washington.