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US Marine 'Deserter' Reappears After 10 Years
A US Marine who had been listed as a deserter for 10 years is back in custody after giving himself up in Bahrain.
Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, 34, a naturalised American who worked as an Arabic interpreter for the service, went missing from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina in 2005 after visiting his family in Utah.
"The Naval Criminal Investigative Service worked with Cpl Hassoun to turn himself in and return to the US to face charges under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice," the Marine Corps said in a statement.
According to media reports, Hassoun first fled to Canada and then to Lebanon, where he was born.
A Marine official reportedly said Hassoun's case was not linked to that of US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl who was released in a prisoner exchange with the Taliban after spending five years as a prisoner of war.
Hassoun was first charged with deserting in 2004 after he disappeared from his base near Falluja in Iraq. He was later seen in a videotape blindfolded and apparently being held captive by militants.
An Islamist website later claimed had been beheaded, but he showed up unharmed at the US Embassy in Beirut a month later. He denied deserting and claimed he had been captured and held as a prisoner.
"I did not desert my post," he said. "I was captured and held against my will by anti-coalition forces for 19 days. This was a very difficult and challenging time for me."
He was returned to Lejeune†to face desertion charges but he disappeared again. A short time later he was placed on military list of "most wanted" fugitives.
It is not known where Hassoun spent the last decade or why he chose to turn himself in now.
Hassoun's brother, Mohamad, said Wassef Ali Hassoun was a victim of anti-Muslim bias in the US military though the Marine Corps denied this.