US expands Guantanamo spy probe

The United States is investigating whether or not Syria was directly involved in alleged spying at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre where hundreds of Afghan war prisoners are being held.

    Guantanamo prisoners prepare for prayer

    A US air force translator Senior Airman Ahmad al-Halabi was arrested on 23 July on charges of espionage and aiding the enemy by attempting to send intelligence, names and serial numbers of prisoners to Syria.

    He was also carrying a laptop computer with 180 classified notes for delivery to Syria.

    “If it turns out that this guy is guilty and it turns out that he was talking to Syria in some light, then that’s an issue that the government will deal with at the time,” said General Peter Pace, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs on Wednesday.

    In Damascus, Syrian Information Minister Ahmad al-Hasan called the charges “baseless and illogical”.

    “How could Syria have spies in Guantanamo? Is the CIA incapable of finding a trustworthy translator?” he said.

    Investigation

    Al-Halabi is one of two US soldiers detained in a widening espionage case involving the detention camp adjacent to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Army chaplain Captain James Lee was arrested on 10 September on suspicion of spying.

    "How could Syria have spies in Guantanamo? Is the CIA incapable of finding a trustworthy translator?"

    Ahmad al-Hasan, Syria's Information Minister

    Defence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that other US servicemen were under investigation as part of the probe.

    The US indictment against al-Halabi charged that he attempted to deliver secret documents to a foreign citizen “with intent or reason to believe it would be used to the injury of the United States or the advantage of Syria, a foreign nation”.

    The accusation alleges he was heading for Syria around 23 July when he was arrested at Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida on a flight from Guantanamo.

    He had a computer with over 180 electronic versions of notes and two handwritten notes from Guantanamo detainees with the intention of delivering them to a citizen of a foreign government, according to the indictment.

    They included “writings relating to the national defence, which directly concerned intelligence gathering and planning for the United States’ war against terrorists”.

    Al-Halabi’s arrest was revealed on Tuesday. The Pentagon says there is no direct link between his case and Yee’s although they served at the facility during the same period.

    SOURCE: AFP


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