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Marine Guilty of Desertion in Iraq Gets 2 Years in Prison

Image: Marine Guilty of Desertion in Iraq Gets 2 Years in Prison
In this July 19, 2004 file photo, U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun reads a prepared statement outside the gate at Quantico Marine Corps Base in Northern Virginia. (Mannie Garcia/Reuters/Landov)  

By    |   Tuesday, 24 Feb 2015 07:29 AM

A Marine was found guilty of desertion Monday for disappearing from his base in Iraq in 2004 and then, after appearing in an Islamist militant website video as a captive, living more than a decade in Lebanon.

A spokesman at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina told the Washington Post that Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, 34, was found guilty of deserting his post with the intent to avoid hazardous duty and desertion with intent to remain away permanently.

Hassoun was sentenced to two years in prison, a reduction in rank to private and a dishonorable discharge, said Marine Capt. Stewart Coles. Hassoun could have received up to 7½ years in prison for the offenses.

Hassoun was assigned to Camp Fallujah in Iraq in June 2004 as a member of the human exploitation team with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, when he went missing, noted the Post. He was first believed to have been killed by militants after an online video was posted showing him blindfolded. Other militant sites said he had been beheaded.

Military prosecutors charged during Hassoun's trial, though, that Hassoun had planned for his departure all along, burning some possessions before he left and asking one of his Iraqi interpreters if he could hide in his house, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Prosecutors charged that Hassoun had packed a civilian backpack with a map and an Iraqi dialect book, dressed in civilian clothes and slipped out a remote, unmanned exit gate that he had knowledge of, wrote the Times.

Prosecutors said soon after showing up in the kidnapping video, Hassoun appeared at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut where he was returned to the United States and was charged with desertion in December 2004.

He was granted Christmas leave to visit to family in Utah, but fled to Lebanon where he said he wanted to negotiate a divorce from his wife with her family, according to the Times. That began an eight-year ordeal in which Hassoun was tried in Lebanon courts and his passport was taken by the Lebanese authorities.

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A Marine was found guilty of desertion Monday for disappearing from his base in Iraq in 2004 and then, after appearing in an Islamist militant website video as a captive, living more than a decade in Lebanon.
marine, guilty, desertion, iraq
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2015-29-24
Tuesday, 24 Feb 2015 07:29 AM
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