Marine, long listed as deserter, back in custody
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[June 30, 2014]
By Peter Cooney
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Marine
listed as a deserter for almost a decade since going missing after his
return to the United States following his brief disappearance in Iraq is
back in military custody, the Marine Corps said on Sunday.
Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, 34, is scheduled to return on Monday
to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, 9-1/2 years after he failed to
report for duty there on Jan. 5, 2005, following a visit to his
family, the Marines said. He had since been listed as a deserter,
the service added.
"The Naval Criminal Investigative Service worked with Cpl. Hassoun
to turn himself in and return to the United States to face charges
under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice," the Marine Corps said
in a statement. Media reports said he gave himself up in Bahrain.
Hassoun was first charged with desertion 10 years ago after
disappearing from his base near Falluja, Iraq, in June 2004 and then
turning up in Lebanon a month later saying he had been kidnapped by
After a five-month investigation, the Marines alleged that Hassoun
had "taken unauthorized leave of the unit where he served as an
Arabic interpreter," the service said in a 2004 release.
During his disappearance, Hassoun was seen in a videotape,
apparently being held by militants, blindfolded and with a sword
poised over his head.
An Islamic militant website said later he had been beheaded. But he
showed up unharmed at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in July 2004.
Hassoun denied deserting and told reporters he had been captured and
held against his will.
Shortly before the start of military proceedings against him,
Hassoun failed to report back to Camp Lejeune after visiting his
family in Utah.
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According to media reports, Hassoun fled the United States through
Canada and went to Lebanon, where he was born.
Media reports quoted a Marine official as saying Hassoun's case had
no connection with that of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who
spent five years as a Taliban prisoner of war before being released
last month in an exchange for five Taliban leaders held at the
Guantanamo prison in Cuba. The exchange sparked a political
uproar in Washington.
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)
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