Air Force Translator At Guantanamo Bay Prison Faces Espionage Charges

Senior Airman Ahmad al-Halabi faces 32 criminal charges and is being held at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, spokesman Maj. Michael Shavers said.

Al-Halabi is charged with nine counts related to espionage, three counts of aiding the enemy, 11 counts of disobeying a lawful order and nine counts of making a false official statement, the Associated Press reported.

Those charges could carry the death penalty, according to Eugene Fidell, a civilian lawyer in Washington and president of the National Institute of Military Justice.

The general in charge of al-Halabi’s case decides whether or not prosecutors could seek the death penalty, which would then require a unanimous vote from the 12-member military jury.

Details about Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba have been classified and the military has not identified the 660 suspected al-Qaida or Taliban members imprisoned there.

Al-Halabi was an Arabic language translator at the prison, Shavers said. Al-Halabi knew a Muslim chaplain who worked at the prison who was arrested earlier this month. It was unclear if the arrests were linked.

The Muslim military chaplain, Army Capt. Yousef Yee, was arrested Sept. 10 in Jacksonville, Fla., after getting off a flight from Cuba. Yee was carrying classified documents that were confiscated by officials.

He is being held at a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C., but has not yet been charged. A military magistrate ruled Sept. 15 that there is enough evidence to hold Yee for up to two months while the investigation continues.