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Officer accused of mishandling intelligence data

Colonel assigned to Guantanamo faces two charges

Suspected al Qaeda and Taliban detainees are being held and interrogated at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Suspected al Qaeda and Taliban detainees are being held and interrogated at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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(CNN) -- An Army intelligence officer assigned to a task force guarding al Qaeda and Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been charged with improperly handling classified material and lying to investigators probing the alleged security breach, U.S. Central Command said Saturday.

Col. Jack Farr, who has been serving at Guantanamo Bay for six months on temporary assignment, was charged with one count of failing to obey a lawful order and one count of making a false official statement, according to a statement from Central Command.

Farr is the fourth person to be implicated in an investigation into alleged security breaches at Camp Delta, where hundreds of detainees captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere are being held.

The colonel is accused of wrongfully transporting classified material without a proper security container in October and making a false statement in the course of the investigation into his handling of classified material, the statement said.

The charges have been forwarded to the commander of the Joint Task Force, who will decide whether to refer them for a court-martial, Central Command said.

Chaplain charged

There have been other arrests of military and civilian personnel who worked at Guantanamo.

Army Capt. James Yee, a Muslim chaplain at Camp Delta who worked with suspected Taliban and al Qaeda detainees, was arrested in September, initially on suspicion of espionage and aiding the enemy.

He has been charged with three counts of failing to obey an order and one count each of adultery, making a false official statement and conduct unbecoming an officer. Two of the charges relate to allegations that he used a government computer to view and store pornography.

Army Capt. James Yee
Army Capt. James Yee

Military officials accuse Yee of taking classified material to his home and transporting it without property security containers or covers. He allegedly had classified material in his possession when he returned to the United States from Guantanamo Bay in September.

Yee has since been transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia. Military officials said he would report to the chaplain and perform duties commensurate to his rank. (Full story)

Civilian translator

Ahmed Mehalba, a civilian translator who worked at Guantanamo, was arrested at Boston's Logan International Airport in September after U.S. Immigration officials found him carrying CD-ROMs and paper documents that are allegedly related to the detainees at Guantanamo.

FBI agent John Van Kleeff testified at a hearing last month that Mehalba was carrying a computer disc with 368 files marked "secret" and did not have authorizing documents that would have allowed him to be in possession of those files.

The agent also said that a list of documents on the disc was in Mehalba's handwriting.

Mehalba has denied knowing how classified documents were put on his disc.

Van Kleeff also said that in subsequent interviews, Mehalba told agents he had sold a personal computer he had used at Guantanamo Bay. The FBI had retrieved that computer, Van Kleeff said, and had found five classified documents on the hard drive, along with Mehalba's resume.

Ahmed Mehalba
Ahmed Mehalba

The Department of Homeland Security said Mehalba is a naturalized U.S. citizen of Egyptian descent. He had arrived at the Boston airport from Cairo, Egypt, via Milan, Italy.

He is charged with knowingly and willfully making materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations. That charge carries a penalty of up to five years in prison upon conviction. (Full story)

Air Force translator

Air Force Senior Airman Ahmad al Halabi, an American citizen of Syrian descent who served as a translator at Camp Delta, faces more than 30 charges, including espionage, aiding the enemy and making false statements.

Halabi allegedly e-mailed information about operations at Guantanamo Bay to people in Syria. His translations of statements by detainees have been retranslated because military officials fear they were not reliable.

The Syrian government has denied any involvement.

In an affidavit to obtain a search warrant in the case, Special Agent Lance Wega of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations said the investigation of Halabi was "initiated based on reports of suspicious activity while he was stationed at Travis AFB and also while deployed to Kuwait and Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba."

While in Cuba, the affidavit said, "Halabi made statements criticizing United States policy with regard to the detainees and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. He has also expressed sympathy for and has had unauthorized contact with the detainees, including providing unauthorized items of comfort to the detainees." (Full story)


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