HAGERSTOWN, Md. – The highest-ranking U.S. soldier convicted of abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was paroled Monday from military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., his lawyer said.
Former Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick Jr. served about three years of an eight-year sentence for actions that included placing wires in a detainee's hands and telling him he would be electrocuted if he fell off a box.
Frederick is among 12 U.S. soldiers convicted in the scandal that erupted in April 2004 with the release of pictures of grinning U.S. soldiers posing with detainees, some naked, being held on leashes or in painful and sexually humiliating positions.
Frederick, 40, of Buckingham, Va., declined interview requests made through his attorney, Gary Myers, and family members.
"We're just elated that he's coming home," sister Miriam Frederick said in a telephone interview.
Myers said Frederick's cooperation with prosecutors, including his testimony at the trial in August of final Abu Ghraib defendant Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, aided in his early release.
"Chip Frederick was never a "bad apple" as the Army tried to portray him," Myers said in an e-mailed statement to The Associated Press. "Frederick recognized that he had done wrong and, like the decent man that he is, pleaded guilty to some of the charges against him."
Myers said Frederick's prosecution was a blatant political attempt to shift blame from former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other high-ranking government officials, whom Myers said had created an environment in which the Geneva Conventions were disregarded and misconduct was allowed in the name of national security.
Frederick, of the 372nd Military Police Company of Cresaptown, Md., supervised the night shift in the prison's "hard site," where detainees deemed to be of high intelligence value were held.
At his court-martial in Baghdad in October 2004, Frederick admitted placing the wires in the hooded detainee's hands; forcing another, naked detainee to masturbate while soldiers photographed him; jumping and stomping on a pile of seven detainees accused of rioting; and punching a detainee in the chest so hard he needed medical attention.
"I knew it was wrong at the time because I knew it was a form of abuse," Frederick, a former Virginia state correctional officer, said at his court-martial. He testified then, and again at Jordan's trial in August, that at least some of the abuse, such as threatening the man with electrocution, stripping male prisoners and covering their heads with women's underwear, was directed by military and civilian interrogators.
Frederick pleaded guilty to conspiracy, dereliction of duty, maltreatment of detainees, assault and committing an indecent act. Prosecutors dropped several other charges in a plea deal.
Frederick is among 11 enlisted soldiers convicted in the scandal. Jordan, the only officer charged, was acquitted of abuse charges but convicted of disobeying a general's order not to communicate with others about a subsequent investigation of the abuse.