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Sources: Muslim chaplain's arrest prompts U.S. probe

U.S. official: Captain had classified Guantanamo Bay documents

U.S. Army Capt. James Yee
U.S. Army Capt. James Yee

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A military and intelligence investigation into possible security breaches at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is under way following the arrest of a U.S. Army Islamic chaplain, Bush administration sources said.

Capt. James Yee, who has not been charged, is being held in the brig in Charleston, South Carolina, on suspicion of espionage and treason.

Sources said the investigation is looking at whether other U.S. military personnel may have been involved.

U.S. military authorities took Yee into custody September 10 at the Jacksonville, Florida, Naval Air Station while in possession of classified documents "that a chaplain shouldn't have," said an official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The official said the documents included "diagrams of the cells and the facilities at Guantanamo," where the military is holding about 600 suspected al Qaeda and other so-called enemy combatants.

Yee also allegedly was carrying lists of the detainees as well as their interrogators, the official said.

In addition, Yee is suspected of having ties to radical Muslims in the United States that are now under investigation, the official said, adding that he couldn't elaborate.

Yee, who was assigned a military defense lawyer, can be held for 120 days before the military charges him with any offense, officials said.

He appeared September 15 before a military magistrate, who ruled there was sufficient reason to hold him in pretrial confinement.

Army officials with the U.S. Southern Command, which controls the Guantanamo Bay facility, said that they could not comment on the status of the investigation.

However, they confirmed Yee is a 1990 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. They said he became an air-defense artillery officer and left the Army some time later. Yee also served in the Persian Gulf War.

Yee then moved to Syria, where he lived for four years studying Islam and was married, apparently to a Syrian woman, according to U.S. government sources.

A U.S. State Department document available on the Internet confirms Yee's time in Syria, saying he "spent four years studying Arabic and Islam in Damascus."

The same document quotes Yee as saying, "An act of terrorism, the taking of innocent civilian lives, is prohibited by Islam, and whoever has done this needs to be brought to justice, whether he is Muslim or not."

A Southern Command official said Yee returned to the Army as a Muslim chaplain after his conversion to Islam and was assigned in November to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

Yee is one of about a dozen Muslim chaplains in the U.S. military, according to officials.

CNN correspondents Barbara Starr and Chris Plante contributed to this report.


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