[JURIST] The first military officer to face court-martial [JURIST report; press release] for aiding the enemy since the 2003 Iraq invasion was found not guilty Friday of aiding the enemy by providing a cellular phone to detainees. Former US military police commander Lt. Col. William Steele was convicted on three lesser charges [JURIST report] of unauthorized possession of classified documents, failing to obey an order, and for conduct unbecoming an officer by having an inappropriate relationship with an interpreter. Steele faced a possible life sentence if convicted by the military judge of aiding the enemy, and faces up to ten years in prison for his conviction on the other charges.
Steele's defense lawyer said Monday in court-martial proceedings that Steele was trying to make sure that detainees under his control were treated humanely and was making an effort to improve the US image in Iraq, but prosecutors insisted that Steele ignored rules put in place for detainees. Camp Cropper, located near Baghdad International Airport, is the second-largest US-run military prison [WP report] in Iraq after Camp Bucca in the wake of the closing of the notorious Abu Ghraib [JURIST news archive] prison. The US emptied [JURIST report] Abu Ghraib and transferred those detainees to the Iraqi government in 2006. Cropper currently has some 3.000 inmates. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.