- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 5, 2005

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Marine charged with desertion after he claimed to have been kidnapped last year in Iraq was again declared a deserter yesterday after he failed to return from a holiday leave.

Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun was required to return to Camp Lejeune by noon Tuesday, but did not report for duty in a motor pool, said Maj. Matt Morgan, a spokesman for the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Cpl. Hassoun was still missing at 3 p.m. yesterday, Maj. Morgan said.

Cpl. Hassoun’s command “officially declared him a deserter and issued authorization for civil authorities to apprehend Hassoun and return him to military control,” Maj. Morgan said.

Mazen Hassoun, the corporal’s brother, said from his West Jordan, Utah, home that he was surprised by the latest accusation. He said he had not heard from his brother, but was awaiting a call from him.

Cpl. Hassoun was listed as missing in Iraq after he failed to report for duty June 20. A week later, the Arabic news network Al Jazeera broadcast a photo of Cpl. Hassoun looking as if he were a hostage, blindfolded and with a sword behind his head.

Cpl. Hassoun contacted American officials in Beirut on July 8, and was taken to the U.S. Embassy there.

He has made one statement since returning to the United States, saying he was captured and held against his will by anti-coalition forces. He has declined interview requests.

Cpl. Hassoun was charged last month with desertion, theft, loss of government property and wrongful appropriation of a government vehicle. The desertion count carries a five-year maximum prison sentence and the other counts carry 10-year maximums.

The corporal’s hearing on the Iraq desertion charge has been delayed until Jan. 13 to allow Cpl. Hassoun to hire a civilian lawyer to assist his military lawyers.

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