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Chaplain's Case Focus of Scrutiny by Pentagon

Heeding lawmakers' calls, a top official is to investigate the Muslim's treatment in Cuba.

August 05, 2004|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon's inspector general plans to investigate the treatment of a Muslim chaplain put in solitary confinement for 76 days and then cleared in an espionage probe at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to a letter to lawmakers released Wednesday.

House and Senate Democrats have been pushing for an investigation into the case of Capt. James Joseph Yee, who submitted his resignation to the Army on Monday.

Yee was arrested last year and charged with mishandling classified material and other crimes in a suspected espionage ring at the base, but the criminal charges were later dropped. He was then reprimanded for adultery and downloading pornography, but an Army general threw out that reprimand.

"We will conduct an investigation into the issues raised with respect to your correspondence," John R. Crane, an assistant inspector general, wrote in a July 29 letter to House Democrats who sought the inquiry. He wrote that because of "other ongoing and urgent matters," the probe would start in the fall.

Meanwhile, three Britons freed from Guantanamo Bay claimed Wednesday that they suffered systematic brutality and were kept in cages in the sweltering Cuban heat during their detention at the U.S. military facility.

In a report released by their lawyers, the men alleged that brutal treatment forced them to make false confessions.

"The idea that these three people were kept in this prison, this gulag, and forced to make false confessions is amazing," Michael Ratner, head of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said at a news conference at the group's Manhattan offices.

Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul, friends from England, were released from the U.S. detention facility in March after being held for more than two years. They were detained in late 2001 in Afghanistan. Officials did not explain how the men wound up there.

Maj. Michael Shavers, a Pentagon spokesman, said U.S. policy condemned abuse of detainees. He declined to address specific allegations of abuse or say whether any had been, or would be, investigated.

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