WASHINGTON—The only U.S. Army officer to face a court-martial over the scandal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in the case, the Army said Thursday.
A court-martial convicted Lt. Col. Steven Jordan in August of disobeying an order not to discuss the investigation of abuse at the jail and issued him a criminal reprimand as penalty.
But Maj. Gen. Richard Rowe, commanding officer for the Army Military District of Washington, Tuesday disapproved of both the conviction and the reprimand, the Army said.
The decision by Rowe wipes Jordan's record clean of any criminal responsibility.
"In light of the offense Jordan has been found guilty of committing, and the substantial evidence in mitigation ... Rowe determined that an administrative reprimand was a fair and appropriate disposition of the matter," Army spokesman Col. James Yonts said in a statement.
Jordan had once faced a maximum punishment of five years in prison and dismissal from the Army over the Abu Ghraib scandal that unleashed wave of global condemnation against the United States when images of abused prisoners surfaced in 2004.
The photos included scenes of naked detainees stacked in a pyramid and other inmates cowering in front of snarling dogs.
Jordan, who was in charge of an Abu Ghraib interrogation center, said he had played no part in the abuse and complained that the military was trying to make him a scapegoat.
His defense team also argued that he held no command authority at the prison.
The judicial panel of 10 officers that convicted him in August of disobeying the order also acquitted him of any responsibility for the cruel treatment of Abu Ghraib detainees.
The letter of administrative reprimand that Jordan will now receive is a document used by military commanders to identify and correct conduct that fails to comply with established standards.
Eleven lower-ranking soldiers have been convicted in military courts in connection with the physical abuse and sexual humiliation of Abu Ghraib detainees.
Two other officers have been disciplined by the Army, but neither faced criminal charges or dismissal.
Human rights activists charge that the military's disciplinary record is at odds with public pledges by top U.S. officials, who vowed the United States would identify those responsible for the abuse and hold them accountable.