For the fifth time, the Army on Tuesday delayed the pretrial hearing for a Muslim chaplain accused of mishandling classified information at the U.S. terror prison at GuantÃ¡namo Bay, Cuba.
The Southern Command in Miami said Capt. James ”Youseff” Yee’s hearing at Fort Benning, Ga., will resume March 10 — not today, as previously announced. Prosecutors sought the delay because the military has not completed a security review of potentially classified documents in the case, Southcom said.
Yee’s civilian attorney responded that the government should drop its case, which began with the West Point graduate’s arrest Sept. 11 in Jacksonville.
‘I don’t know what takes so long about completing this classification review, but it certainly supports our position that there is no `there’ there,” said Yee’s civilian defense attorney, Eugene Fidell.
“Whatever else you can say about the downward trajectory of this case, this latest delay affords the government time to take a hard look at whether the time has come to pull the plug.”
Early in the case, investigators told Yee’s Army attorney to prepare for an espionage trial. No capital crime charges were ever leveled. Yee, 35, is accused of mishandling classified material, adultery and downloading pornography onto his government computer, crimes that could carry a maximum 13-year sentence.
The latest delay, announced late Tuesday, was the fifth blamed on confusion over the classification of documents.
Army Col. David McWilliams, a Southcom spokesman, also disclosed a delay in another GuantÃ¡namo case — hearings against Army Col. Jackie Duane Farr, 58, also slated to open today at Fort Gordon, Ga.
Charged Nov. 29 with making a false statement and failure to obey an order, Farr is the most senior military official caught up in last year’s crackdown on mishandling of intelligence by soldiers and civilians working at GuantÃ¡namo.
Unlike Yee, who was confined for 76 days at a Navy brig, Farr was allowed to continue working as an Army officer at GuantÃ¡namo pending his investigation. Conviction on his charges could bring a seven-year jail sentence.