Published January 14, 2015
A Muslim interpreter convicted of mishandling classified documents from the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay (search) was given a bad-conduct discharge (search) Thursday — but won't have to spend more time behind bars.
A military judge announced the sentence after a hearing in which Senior Airman Ahmad Al Halabi (search), 25, made an impassioned plea for leniency. He told the judge keeping the documents was a mistake and said he would never do anything to hurt the Air Force or the United States.
There was no immediate reaction from Al Halabi or military prosecutors to the decision by Air Force Col. Barbara Brand.
The former supply clerk pleaded guilty Wednesday to wrongfully taking pictures, lying about it and mishandling classified information.
In exchange for Al Halabi's plea, the military dropped an attempted espionage charge. It marked the third such case against accused spies at Guantanamo Bay to fall apart this year.
"I have dedicated my life to the United States, my country," the 25-year-old native Syrian told the judge earlier in the day. "I never, ever would do anything to hurt the Air Force, my country, my family."
The judge sentenced Al Halabi to 295 days in jail but gave him credit for time served, meaning he will not spend additional time behind bars. Al Halabi's pay grade also will be reduced to the lowest level.
Al Halabi was accused of trying to deliver messages from detainees at Guantanamo to his homeland. He was arrested last July as he headed to Syria to get married.