James Yee, a former U.S. Army chaplain at Guantanamo Bay who was imprisoned by the government he served, discussed his struggle for justice and human rights during an April 16 lecture at Dickinson College.
A West Point graduate who had reached the rank of captain, Lee had converted from Lutheran Christianity to Islam in 1991, after serving in the Gulf War. He spent 10 months as Muslim chaplain and religious advisor at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which later would become infamous for its treatment of detainees—treatment that Yee vigorously opposed.
Yee, who had received a Commendation Medal from the U.S. Army, was later accused of espionage, spying and aiding the alleged Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners at Guantanamo. He was arrested in 2003 and imprisoned in a Navy brig for 76 days, where he was held in solitary confinement and was subjected to sensory-deprivation techniques.
After months of intense government investigation, all charges were dropped. His record wiped clean, Lee resigned from the U.S. Army, receiving an honorable discharge. He was awarded with an additional Commendation Medal for “exceptionally meritorious service.”
Yee published an award-winning book about his experiences, For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire.