Campus News

View Year

Former Army Chaplain, Now Cleared of Spying Charges, to Lecture at Juniata

(Posted March 20, 2006)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- James Yee, a former chaplain and captain in the U.S. Army who was accused of aiding Taliban and Al-Queda prisoners at the military prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and was subsequently cleared of the charges, will lecture at Juniata College at 7:30 p.m., March 27 in Alumni Hall in the Brumbaugh Academic Center on the Juniata campus.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The talk is sponsored by the departments of history, religion and politics, PAXO, the student club for peace studies, the Muslim Student Association, and the Campus Ministry office.

James Yee was an Army chaplain assigned to minister to Muslim prisoners sent to Guantanamo Bay. He arrived at the prison Nov. 5, 2002 and was arrested for espionage Sept 10 of that year at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station, where he was about to start a one-week leave. He subsequently spent nearly eight months in prison, including 76 days in solitary confinement, before the Army dropped all charges of spying.

Yee is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who converted to Islam in 1991. He served in the aftermath of the first Gulf War, left the military, and then traveled to Damascus, Syria to study Arabic languages and Islam.

He went back into the Army as a chaplain in January 2001 and served as a chaplain for Muslim soldiers as well as an educator for soldier with questions about Islam. As a result of his performance, Yee was chosen to serve as the Muslim chaplain for the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. He was arrested, and inspectors confiscated drawings and documents containing information about the prisoners and their interrogators.

The government dropped all criminal charges, March 19, 2004, and Yee was reinstated to active duty at Fort Lewis, Wash. He resigned from the Army and received an honorable discharge Jan. 7, 2005.

Yee published a book about his experience, "For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire," a 240-page memoir that details his harrowing journey from Army officer to prisoner and asks if the military abdicated its responsibility for due process and religious tolerance by changing the standards of treatment for prisoners held at Guantanamo for interrogation.

Currently, Yee is touring the United States lecturing about his book and on religious diversity. He has appeared on many national news programs, including "The O'Reilly Factor," "Hardball," "Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" and NPR's "All Things Considered."


Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.