After fleeing his country three years ago, a US army deserter has been deported by Canada. It is the first time that the country has expelled a resister to the US war in Iraq (photo, from abc.net.au).
Though it would not reveal Mr Long’s destination, the Canada Border Services Agency (ASFC) confirmed that Robin Long, 25, has been deported.
After volunteering for the US military in 2003, Mr Long fled to Canada in 2005, in order to avoid serving in Iraq.
He said that he fled to Canada because the US army wanted him participate in what he called an “illegal war of aggression in Iraq”. He also claimed that if sent back to the US, he would suffer irreparable harm.
After Mr Long’s request for asylum was rejected, he was ordered to leave Canada and was arrested by the ASFC last October.
In Vancouver, on Monday, a federal court refused to suspend the extradition order.
He had not convincingly proven that he would suffer irreparable harm if he were extradited, said judge Anne Mactavish.
Since 2002, the number of deserters tried by the US military justice system had risen in the United States, though most were not punished for deserting and even fewer were jailed, acknowledged the judge.
In Canadian media, she said that from 2002 to 2006, about 94 per cent of US deserters were given “a less than honourable discharge from the military”.
Some 200 Americans deserters are believed to be in Canada, like Mr Long was, in an effort to avoid service in Iraq. So far, efforts to grant them refugee status have been rejected by Canadian immigration officials and the courts.
Could still go ti Iraq
Canada gave refuge to up to 90 000 Americans during the Vietnam War. Most of them were trying to avoid the military draft. And in the late 1970s, after the US declared an amnesty, the majority of them returned home.
According to Sarah Bjorknas, a co-ordinator for the War Resisters Support Campaign, Mr Long would be returned to his unit based in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Mr Long’s punishment for deserting would be up to the company commander and could include court martial and prison time, she said, adding that he could still be deployed to Iraq.
Ms Bjorknas also said that apparently, Robin Long had been moved between several jails in British Columbia. She added that the group’s attempts to provide Mr Long with assistance have been frustrated by the moves.
Last week, while Canada’s Federal Court decides whether to hear Sergeant Corey Glass’s case, the 25-year-old US national guardsman has been granted by the court a stay to his deportation order. Sergeant Glass has refused redeployment to Iraq.