Pleas in the aiding-the-enemy case against a former top U.S. military jailer in Iraq have been deferred, officials said Thursday.

Army Lt. Col. William H. Steele was to enter pleas Tuesday during an arraignment at the Victory Base Courthouse near Baghdad. But those pleas have been deferred to an unspecified date.

Steele faces seven counts on four charges: aiding the enemy; unauthorized possession of classified materials; giving special privileges to and maintaining an inappropriate relationship with an interpreter; and disobeying a lawful order and possessing pornography.

Steele’s court-martial is scheduled for Aug. 15.

During the Tuesday arraignment, defense officials asked that Steele be released from pretrial confinement. Prosecutors opposed the motion, and the military judge, Lt. Col. Richard O’Brien, has 10 days to decide on the matter.

Steele, the former commander of a U.S. prison in Camp Cropper in Iraq, allegedly allowed detainees to make unsupervised phone calls using his cell phone.

If convicted, Steele could face the death penalty for aiding the enemy.

Steele, of Virginia, has been charged in connection with a series of incidents between October 2005 and February 2007, when he was head of the 451st Military Police Detachment at Camp Cropper and later was the 89th Military Police Brigade’s senior patrol officer near Camp Victory.

None of the charges made reference to Steele allegedly fraternizing with a detainee’s daughter, as had been earlier alleged.

According to testimony in previous legal proceedings, Steele exchanged e-mails with the detainee’s daughter, bought computer software for her and used government money to buy Cuban cigars and hair dye for Saddam Hussein before the dictator was hanged.

Steele is being held in a detention facility in Kuwait.

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