New questions emerged this week about the military’s investigation of a so-called spy ring at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as the Air Force moved ahead to a court-martial of an airman accused of attempted espionage.
Several issues — from allegations of prosecutorial misconduct to accusations of mishandling evidence — were raised at a three-day hearing in the case of Senior Airman Ahmad Al Halabi. The hearing ended Thursday.
Al Halabi, a Syrian-born U.S. citizen, worked as a translator at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo where as many as 600 suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives are being held. He is accused of trying to deliver secret messages from prisoners to unknown foreigners in Syria. He is also charged with lying to investigators and disobeying orders.
The concerns didn’t stop the judge in the case from denying a defense motion to drop the 17 criminal charges against Al Halabi, and he is scheduled for court-martial Sept. 14. But they do raise questions about the case against Halabi and about suspected espionage at the prison camp.
The government already has dropped charges against Army Capt. James Yee, a former Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo who was a target of the espionage investigation. Prosecutors never produced any evidence that Yee was a spy, and retired military legal officers accused the Army of overreaching in his case. Prosecutors said they couldn’t press charges against Yee without divulging national secrets.
A civilian translator who worked at Guantanamo also has been charged with possessing secret material.