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US soldier sentenced for desertion
Headline Legal News | 2008/08/26 08:15
A US military judge in Colorado sentenced US Army Pfc. Robin Long Friday to 15 months in prison, dishonorable discharge and demotion after Long pleaded guilty to desertion with intent to remain away permanently. Long fled to Canada in 2005 in moral opposition to the war in Iraq and filed for refugee status there, but a Canadian immigration judge denied his motion in August 2007, writing: 
I find nothing in the claimant’s evidence that would support a finding that he could not rely upon the state to protect him from persecution or any other harm. There is no support for a finding that it was objectively reasonable for the claimant not to have sought protection in his country.
Canadian officials deported Long to the US in July. US authorities initially charged him with desertion with intent to shirk hazardous duty, a more serious offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but Long pleaded to the lesser offense of desertion with intent to remain away permanently the same day as the scheduled start of his court-martial proceedings.

In early July, Canada's House of Commons passed a non-binding resolution to grant US military deserters asylum. In November 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear the appeals of Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey, two US military deserters who had unsuccessfully applied for asylum before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. The IRB had concluded that the two men would receive a fair trial if they were returned to the US and that they would not face persecution or cruel and unusual punishment.


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