Marines Declare Hassoun Deserter Again
Posted January 6, 2005 5:12 a.m. EST
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — A Marine who said he was kidnapped while on duty in Iraq has been charged with desertion again.
The Marine Corps says Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun was on authorized leave, but now he's more than a day overdue back at Camp Lejeune.
A statement from the Marine Corps says Hassoun was due back at noon Tuesday. His commanders declared him a deserter at 3 p.m. Wednesday. They say civilian police have the authority to apprehend Hassoun and return him to the military.
"There may be a perfect explanation for his not being here essentially. However, it's up to us to find him first and determine the circumstances," Camp Lejeune Maj. Matt Morgan said.
Hassoun disappeared in June from a U.S. military base near Fallujah in Iraq, where he worked as an interpreter. He said he was kidnapped, but the military charged him with desertion. If Hassoun is convicted of desertion during wartime, he could be sentenced to life in a military prison.
It was Hassoun's third leave from Lejeune since returning from Iraq. During both previous leaves, he returned on time.
His whereabouts have been speculated everywhere from Lebanon to Canada. So far, the Marine Corps says no leads have panned out.