WASHINGTON – Former Army Capt. James Yee, whose work as a Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo ended when he was arrested and accused of spying, said Sunday that he was unfairly detained at the Canadian border while returning from a brief visit.
Yee, who spent 76 days in solitary confinement before being cleared of all charges in March 2004, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that memories of his experience in Army detention came back to him while he was being questioned for two hours at the border on Saturday evening.
"Perhaps this is an indication I'm still of interest to the federal government," said Yee, a West Point graduate who converted to Islam in 1991.
Yee said customs officials were polite and professional but would not tell him why he was stopped.
Others stopped at the border had their vehicles inspected and were sent on their way in about 10 minutes while he was being questioned from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., Yee said.
Border inspections are routine, said Mike Milne, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He said he could not comment specifically on why Yee was stopped.
Yee said his drive to Canada from his home in Olympia, Wash., to see a Cirque du Soleil performance in Vancouver, British Columbia, was his first trip outside of the United States since he was honorably discharged from the Army in 2005.
Several things might have attracted the attention of customs officials. Yee said his passport has a stamp from Lebanon. He added that a Koran, a prayer rug and an Islamic document stating the fatwa against terrorism and extremism were in his vehicle.
He said a copy of an article entitled "My American Jihad" about a Harvard commencement speech by a Muslim against terrorism was also in his car.
"Maybe these things raised eyebrows, even though this is all against terrorism," Yee said.