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Muslim Army chaplain wins adultery appeal



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Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (Cuba)
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MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- The U.S. Army on Wednesday dropped its remaining charges against Capt. James Yee, the Muslim chaplain once jailed on accusations of espionage while assigned as a cleric for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A reprimand issued to Yee for lesser sex-related violations was dismissed by Gen. James T. Hill, head of the Army's Southern Command in Miami.

A month ago, the Army abandoned charges of mishandling classified information, after it had postponed proceedings against Yee five times without introducing evidence of what he was supposed to have done wrong.

When Yee was jailed on espionage charges last September at a Navy brig in Charleston, South Carolina, his lawyers were told he might face the death penalty.

Yee spent two and a half months in the brig before being released to face reduced charges of mishandling classified information.

His lawyers and supporters contended throughout the case that the Army panicked and overreacted.

In an administrative hearing scheduled on short notice only three days after the mishandling classified information charges were dismissed, another general found Yee guilty of lesser counts involving adultery and accessing pornography on a government computer. His lawyer appealed that finding.

Hill cited the 76 days Yee was held in pretrial confinement last fall as one of the factors in overturning the guilty verdict and dropping the rest of the case Wednesday.

Yee's civilian defense attorney, Eugene Fidell, issued a statement saying Yee was pleased.

"At the same time, however, it is regrettable that the Army has not yet apologized for the indignities to which he was subjected -- including 76 days of unwarranted solitary confinement," Fidell said.

"We hope that higher authority will agree that an apology is overdue."

Hill indicated the main reason he granted Yee's appeal was the "extensive media attention given ... Chaplain Yee's personal misconduct."

"I do not believe, given the extreme notoriety of his case in the news media, that further stigmatizing chaplain Yee would serve a just and fair purpose," Hill said.

A female Navy officer at Guantanamo Bay testified at the outset of the military proceedings last December at Fort Benning, Georgia, that she had had an affair with Yee, who is married and has a young daughter.

Those proceedings were halted after only one day of testimony, which included an account by a U.S. Customs official who said he found lists of interrogators and detainees in Yee's possession when the Muslim chaplain returned to Florida for home leave last fall.

No more evidence was introduced by the Army before it abandoned that part of the case.

Yee, a West Point graduate, has been reassigned to his home post at Fort Lewis, Washington.

He was warned in writing that he must not wear his uniform when making public comments about his case and must be careful not to undermine military "loyalty, discipline or unit morale."


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