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U.S. soldier who left his unit seeks refugee status in Canada, calls war in Iraq illegal


An Army private seeking refugee status in Canada after refusing to serve in Iraq told immigration officials on Monday that the war is illegal and would have forced him to commit war crimes. Pfc. Jeremy Hinzman, 26, fled from Fort Bragg, N.C., on Jan. 2 and lives in Toronto with his 31-year-old wife, Nga Nguyen, and 2-year-old son, Liam...

[7929]



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U.S. soldier who left his unit seeks refugee status in Canada, calls war in Iraq illegal

BETH DUFF-BROWN, Associated Press Writer



TORONTO, december 7, 2004 (AP) - An Army private seeking refugee status in Canada after refusing to serve in Iraq told immigration officials on Monday that the war is illegal and would have forced him to commit war crimes.

Pfc. Jeremy Hinzman, 26, fled from Fort Bragg, N.C., on Jan. 2 and lives in Toronto with his 31-year-old wife, Nga Nguyen, and 2-year-old son, Liam.

Hinzman told the Immigration and Refugee Board the war in Iraq was illegal and fighting in it would have made him a war criminal. He also said he would be persecuted if forced to return to the United States.

Hinzman said he enlisted for four years in 2000 to experience the army. ``I figured I needed some focus and direction,'' Hinzman said at the start of a three-day hearing.

A member of the 82nd Airborne Division, Hinzman could face charges as a deserter if sent home and face up to five years in prison. He left his unit about two weeks after learning his outfit would be sent to Iraq.

Hinzman had served three years in the Army and applied for conscientious objector status before his unit was sent to Afghanistan in 2002, but the Army told him it lost his application. He said he wanted to fulfill his service obligation but not to participate in combat.

Hinzman is among several young American soldiers seeking refugee status in Canada. They are hoping to capitalize on the country's opposition to President Bush's foreign policy.

Canada has declined Bush's request for troops in Iraq and the majority of its people are opposed to the war.

Some 30,000 to 50,000 Americans fled to Canada during the Vietnam War and were allowed to settle there.


(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)




:: Article nr. 7929 sent on 08-dec-2004 01:56 ECT

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Link: cbsnewyork.com/international/Canada-WarResister-ai/resources_news_html



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