SAN FRANCISCO – Defense lawyers have asked the government to dismiss the most serious charges against a former Guantanamo Bay (search) translator accused of spying, after learning that documents he is accused of trying to deliver to Syria are not classified.
The U.S. Air Force acknowledged Wednesday that a team of experts has determined that most of the documents found in Senior Airman Ahmad Al Halabi's (search) possession when he was arrested in July 2003 were considered "for official use only," but were not classified. One document was classified "secret," but the Air Force would not elaborate.
The naturalized American, who was born in Syria, is accused of trying to deliver messages from detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to his homeland. He was arrested last July as he headed to Syria to get married.
"We feel vindicated by the fact the prosecutors are finally admitting that these documents are not classified," said Donald G. Rehkopf (search), Al Halabi's civilian lawyer. "At the same time, we don't understand why it took them 16 months to figure it out."
Al Halabi, 25, was a supply clerk at Travis Air Force Base (search) before he was sent to Guantanamo Bay for temporary duty. He faces 16 criminal charges, including attempted espionage, which is the most serious. He could be sentenced to life in a military prison if convicted.
"This document review relates to some, but not all of the charges against Senior Airman Al Halabi," said Capt. Michele Tasista, a Travis spokeswoman.
The defense requested that the charges be dismissed Monday.