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Mysterious marine declared deserted again
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U.S. Marine in Mysterious Case Declared Deserter
Wed Jan 5, 2005 05:05 PM ET
By Will Dunham
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, charged a month ago with desertion in a mysterious case in which he left his unit in Iraq only to turn up in Lebanon, has failed to return to his base in North Carolina, the Marine Corps said on Wednesday.
In a statement, the Marines said that Hassoun "has been declared a deserter" after not returning on Tuesday to Camp Lejeune from authorized leave.
The statement said Hassoun had been required to return to the base by noon on Tuesday, but has not reported for duty. The statement said "his command officially declared him a deserter and issued authorization for civil authorities to apprehend Hassoun and return him to military control."
CNN reported that he had gone to Canada.
Hassoun disappeared last June from his unit in Iraq where he had worked as an Arabic interpreter and later turned up in Lebanon, the country where he was born, claiming he had been kidnapped by militants.
The Marines announced on Dec. 9 that he had been charged with desertion, rejecting his account that he had been kidnapped. Hassoun was also charged with loss of government property and theft of a 9mm military pistol.
Although desertion from the U.S. military in time of war could be punishable by death, the Marines said they had no intention of seeking the death penalty.
Hassoun disappeared from his base near Falluja in Iraq and turned up safe at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut on July 8. He was seen during his absence in a videotape, seemingly being held by militants, blindfolded with a sword poised over his head. An Islamic militant Internet site said later he had been beheaded, but he later showed up unharmed at the embassy in Beirut.
Hassoun told reporters after he returned to the United States that he was captured and held against his will and did not desert the military.
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