WASHINGTON – The hearing for a Muslim Army chaplain charged with mishandling classified materials was delayed because others in the military accidentally mishandled classified materials in his case, defense officials said Wednesday.
Army Capt. Yousef Yee (search) was to face the military version of a preliminary hearing Tuesday at Fort Benning, Ga., on charges he violated rules at the U.S. prison for terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay (search), Cuba.
But it was postponed after prosecutors discovered Monday that a classified document was mistakenly put in packages delivered to Yee's attorney and to the hearing officer, said Army Lt. Col. Bill Costello of the U.S. Southern Command.
The document, handwritten by Yee, has now been retrieved from the two packets, Costello said Wednesday.
Yee was arrested in September and later charged with disobeying an order by allegedly taking classified material from Guantanamo without proper security containers.
Last month, the military added charges of making a false statement, storing pornography on a government computer and having sexual relations outside marriage, a punishable offense under military law. His lawyer says he isn't guilty.
The 35-year-old Yee graduated from West Point in 1990 but later left the military for four years to study Arabic and Islam in Syria. Yee rejoined the military as a chaplain before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and had been counseling prisoners held at the camp for suspected terrorists since November of last year.
Yee is one of four men who had contact with the terrorism suspects at Guantanamo to face charges. An Arabic translator, Air Force Senior Airman Ahmad I. al-Halabi (search), has pleaded not guilty to charges of espionage and aiding the enemy.
A civilian interpreter, Ahmad F. Mehalba (search), was arrested in the Boston airport and charged with lying to federal agents by denying computer discs he was carrying had classified information.
On Saturday, Army Col. Jack Farr was charged with "wrongfully transporting classified material without the proper security container on or around Oct. 11," and lying to investigators.