- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Capt. James Yee and prosecutors are near an agreement under which the Army would drop its most serious criminal charges against the Muslim chaplain and he would agree to undergo up to 30 days of counterintelligence interrogations and a polygraph test.

Once accused of spying, Capt. Yee ultimately was charged with adultery and mishandling classified information while assigned to Task Force Guantanamo, where he tended to the religious needs of Taliban and al Qaeda detainees.

Capt. Yee was undergoing a pretrial hearing, called an Article 32, in December at Fort Benning, Ga., when a military judge suspended the proceedings because prosecutors had not performed a required classification review of documents seized from the chaplain.

Negotiations ensued between U.S. Southern Command, which oversees the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Eugene R. Fidell of Washington, Capt. Yee’s civilian attorney.

The deal would have the government drop the classified-information charges. Capt. Yee would be subjected to administrative punishment on charges of committing adultery and storing pornographic material on his computer. He would resign from the Army with an honorable discharge.

The agreement would also give him immunity from charges stemming from his answers to questions about whether he engaged in espionage.

The military originally accused Capt. Yee of five espionage-related charges and implied to his military attorneys that he might face the death penalty.

At the closed magistrate hearing, prosecutors presented a confinement document, a copy of which was viewed by The Washington Times. It listed charges of spying, espionage and aiding the enemy. Based on the government’s submission, the magistrate ordered Capt. Yee held in a Navy brig, where he stayed for 76 days.

But when the military brought formal charges, none of those accusations appeared. Prosecutors charged Capt. Yee, a West Point graduate, with less serious offenses of mishandling classified material.

The material, which included a list of detainees, was seized by authorities when Capt. Yee arrived in Florida on leave from his duties at Guantanamo Bay. The Pentagon has classified the names of detainees so as not to provide the information to the enemy.

Mr. Fidell has repeatedly said his client is innocent of espionage charges.

The Army has transferred Capt. Yee from Fort Benning to Fort Meade, Md.

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