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James J Yee

It's an amazing tale - the US prison chaplain who was helping inmates in the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay but then became a prisoner there himself.  His name is James J Yee, and as Dr David Nicholl reveals, he's heading to Birmingham this week where you can hear him tell his story in his own words.

We've all heard the accounts of Birmingham residents such as Moazzam Begg and the Tipton 3 who were held in Guantanamo Bay for several years without trial and subject to abuse. This week sees the rare opportunity to meet not just them but also one of the US military personnel in Guantanamo who was also a victim of miscarriage of justice.

Chaplain (Yusuf) James J. Yee, a former US Army Chaplain and graduate of West Point served as the Muslim Chaplain for the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2003. While ministering to prisoners there, Captain Yee advised camp commanders on the detainees religious practices and, along the way, objected to the cruel and degrading abuses to which those captives were subjected.

What sets Yee’s already unique story apart from others is how his fortune changed from being recognized twice as an outstanding officer serving the US military to being regarded as an enemy of the state. Captain Yee was arrested and imprisoned in a Naval brig for 76 days in September 2003 while being falsely accused of spying, espionage, and aiding the alleged Taliban and Al-Qaeda prisoners.

He was held in solitary confinement and subjected to the same sensory deprivation techniques that were being used against the prisoners in Cuba that he had been ministering to.

After months of government investigation, all criminal charges were dropped. He tendered his resignation from the U.S. Army and received an Honourable Discharge on January 7, 2005. Upon separation he was awarded with a second Army Commendation Medal for “exceptionally meritorious service.

James Yee will be speaking with Moazzam Begg in Birmingham on Thursday 6th December (co-organised by the Birmingham Guantanamo Coalition and CAGE Prisoners), where they will also be joined by the ‘Tipton Three’ at 7pm in the Carrs Lane Church Centre, Carrs Lane.

A Radio 4 interview on the ‘Sunday Programme’ with James Yee is here (scroll forward to 35 minutes)

Copies of Yee’s gripping account of his Guantanamo experience and struggle for justice “For God And Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire” will also be available at most events.

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