After three months of detention on suspicion of terror-related er... stuff, James Yee was released from prison only to be slapped with unrelated adultery and pornography charges, leaving his family and friends feeling both relief and outrage. When Yee was arrested on Sept. 10th, the media-fanned (and leak-motivated) outcry implied the worst - a sensitive military position abused by a Muslim "fifth column." Only afterwards was Yee charged with significantly minor offences - transporting classified material without proper security containers. Now that the classified material happens to be downloaded porn (which would doom scores of other military men), Yee's many Muslim and Chinese-American supporters see it as a face-saving gesture by the Army at the expense of law-abiding Muslims in the military. "Porn can be downloaded on a computer without the user even knowing it. How did they come up with these charges?" says Cecilia Chang, president of the Justice for New Americans, who led a coalition of Arab and Asian American groups to free Yee. "I don't know why the government would pursue these charges, except for the fact that it's embarrassed by the implosion of charges it originally asserted," agreed Eugene Fidell, his lead attorney. The charges mirror the after-the-fact sentencing of John Walker Lindh for crimes unrelated to his arrest. The Army seems to agree - asked whether Yee's case was still espionage-related, Southern Command spokesman Raul Duany said, "Based on the charges, obviously it's not."
The whole affair is a replay of the Alligator Alley accusations and the case of Samyuktha Verma.