A U.S. airman who served as an Arabic-language translator for terror-related prisoners at Guantanamo Bay has been charged with espionage and aiding the enemy.

The charges could carry the death penalty, Fox News reported.

Military spokesman Maj. Michael Shavers explained to reporters that Senior Airman Ahmad I. al-Halabi, an enlisted man, worked as a translator at the same prison camp where James Yee, the military chaplain arrested on similar charges earlier this month, was stationed. Shavers indicated the two men knew each other, but that it was unclear if the arrests were linked.

Fox News reported Eugene Fidell, a civilian lawyer in Washington and president of the National Institute of Military Justice, says the commanding general in charge of al-Halabi’s case could decide to pursue the death penalty against him.

According to Shaver, Al-Halabi, who was based at Travis Air Force Base in California and assigned to a logistics unit there, is being held at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Al-Halabi and a member of the Navy were detained about two weeks before Yee was arrested, Fox reported. Officials said the two were being surveyed for some time before Yee came to their attention.

Yee, an Islamic U.S. Army chaplain, counseled al-Qaida prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay naval base. Upon his arrest, agents confiscated several classified documents in his possession and interrogated him. The Army has charged Yee with five offenses: sedition, aiding the enemy, spying, espionage and failure to obey a general order.

Earlier stories:

FBI chokes on backlog
of untranslated Arabic

U.S. miscalculations
left troops vulnerable

Shortage of Arabic translators called ‘desperate’

Iraq theater’s Tower of Babel

Fewer interpreters blamed on lack of funds

Army to cut funding for intelligence school?

Related story:

Army Islamic chaplain charged with spying

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