July 24, 2006 in City

Former Army spy suspect delayed at border crossing

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review
 

SEATTLE – Former Army Capt. James Yee, whose work as a Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo ended when he was arrested and accused of spying, said Sunday he believes he was unfairly detained at the Canadian border this past weekend on his way back from a day trip.

Yee, who spent 76 days in solitary confinement before being cleared of all charges in March 2004, told the Associated Press that memories of his experience in Army detention came back to him while he was being questioned for two hours at the border on Saturday evening.

“Perhaps this is an indication I’m still of interest to the federal government,” Yee said.

He said customs officials were polite and professional but would not tell him why he was stopped or if he had done anything wrong.

Border inspections by customs agents are routine, said Mike Milne, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He said he could not comment specifically on why Yee was stopped.

Yee said his drive to Canada from his home in Olympia to see a Cirque du Soleil performance in Vancouver, B.C., was his first trip outside the United States since he was honorably discharged from the Army in 2005.

Since leaving the Army, Yee has worked as a public speaker talking about religious freedom and American values.

The West Point graduate, who converted to Islam in 1991, said several things may have drawn customs officials’ attention. First was his passport, which Yee said had a stamp from Lebanon among a number of other international ports. Second was the Muslim religious items he carries with him, including a Quran and a prayer rug and cap. Third was a Muslim religious document.

A fatwa, or Islamic religious ruling, against terrorism and extremism was in his vehicle when it was searched. “I hope they read it very thoroughly,” Yee said.


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