WASHINGTON (CNN) # A Muslim chaplain in the U.S. Army has been arrested and is being investigated on suspicion of espionage and possibly treason, officials familiar with the case told CNN.
Army Capt. James Yee was taken into custody by U.S. military authorities September 10 at the naval air station in Jacksonville, Florida, while in possession of classified documents “that a chaplain shouldn’t have,” an official told CNN, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The official said the documents included “diagrams of the cells and the facilities at Guantanamo [Bay, Cuba]” where about 600 al Qaeda and other “enemy combatants” are being held by the military.
Yee also was carrying lists of detainees being held there as well as lists of their interrogators, the source said.
In addition to the classified documents, Yee is “believed to have ties to [radical Muslims in the U.S.] that are now under investigation,” the source said. He said he could not elaborate on the basis for that belief.
Although no charges have been filed, the U.S. military is “investigating whether [Yee] may have [been involved in] espionage or treason,” the official said.
“There are a series of things that would lead a reasonable person to believe that something” was out of line, the official said.
Army officials with the U.S. Southern Command, which controls the Guantanamo facility, told CNN that they could not comment on the status of the investigation but acknowledged that Yee had been taken into custody and said he is a 1990 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
They said he became an air-defense artillery officer and left the Army some time later.
The Southern Command official said Yee then converted to Islam and returned to the Army as a Muslim chaplain and had been assigned to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in November 2002.
Yee is one of about a dozen Muslim chaplains in the U.S. military, according to officials.
U.S. government sources contacted by CNN said that after leaving the Army, Yee moved to Syria, where he lived for four years studying Islam and was married, apparently to a Syrian woman.
A State Department document available on the Internet confirms Yee’s time in Syria, saying he “spent four years studying Arabic and Islam in Damascus, Syria.”
In the same document, Yee is quoted as saying, “An act of terrorism, the taking of innocent civilian lives, is prohibited by Islam, and whoever has done this needs to be brought to justice, whether he is Muslim or not.”
According to the AP, Yee is being held at a military brig in Charleston, South Carolina # the same place officials are holding Yaser Esam Hamdi, an American-born Saudi accused of fighting with the Taliban, and Jose Padilla, a former Chicago, Illinois, gang member charged with plotting to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb.”
Yee has been interrogated by Army and Navy law enforcement officials, and by the FBI.
Justice Department officials contacted by CNN confirmed that they had participated in some of the interrogations but said the lead agencies in the investigation are military.
There are between 4,000 and 10,000 practicing Muslims serving in the U.S. armed forces.