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Iraq Transition

U.S. prison chief in Iraq charged with 'aiding enemy'

Story Highlights

• Lt. Col. William Steele jailed in Kuwait awaiting hearing on four charges
• Steele charged with giving cell phone to detainees in prison he commanded
• Another charge: inappropriate relationship with detainee's daughter
• Steele was commander of Camp Cropper, military prison near Baghdad airport
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A U.S. Army officer who was commander of a military prison in Iraq has been charged with giving a cell phone to suspected insurgents who were detained there, a charge described as "aiding the enemy," according to the U.S. military.

Lt. Col. William H. Steele, who was commander of the U.S. Army's Camp Cropper, also was charged with having an improper relationship with a detainee's daughter and an interpreter and possessing pornography, the military said.

Camp Cropper, located near Baghdad International Airport, houses thousands of suspected insurgent detainees and some high profile prisoners. Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was held there until he was hanged last December.

Steele was arrested last month and confined in a military jail in Kuwait while he awaits an Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing, according to U.S. military spokeswoman Lt. Col. Josslyn Aberle.

The four charges also accuse Steele of possessing and mishandling classified information, disobeying an order, and not doing his duty in the approval of funds, according to the U.S. military.

The military gave few specifics about the charges. The first one said that Steele "did, between on or about 1 October 2005 and 31 October 2006, aid the enemy by providing an unmonitored cellular phone to detainees." It gave no specifics about the number or identity of the detainees involved.

The second charge accused Steele of "having unauthorized possession of classified information" and "knowingly and willfully retaining the same and failing to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States."

Charge three suggested that Steele carried on improper relationships with Iraqis, interactions that were deemed "conduct unbecoming an officer in the armed forces." Specifically, it said that on two dates in October 2005 and February 2007, Steele did "wrongfully fraternize with the daughter of a detainee."

The third charge also said Steele did "knowingly and wrongfully provide special privileges to and maintain an inappropriate relationship with an interpreter" between December 2005 and December 2006.

The fourth charge against Steele included a range of accusations that he possessed pornographic videos, wrongfully possessed classified information, disobeyed an order, and "failed to fulfill his obligations as an approving authority in the expenditure of Field Ordering Officer funds."

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