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 in North Carolina 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.

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

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

Hassoun was with his family in West Jordan, Utah, for about a week before he left Dec. 28, family spokesman Tarek Nosseir said. He said there was no indication of any trouble.

“We went to lunch, he was upbeat, there was no problem,” Nosseir said.

On Dec. 28, Hassoun’s family took him to the airport for a flight to North Carolina. They have been trying since Dec. 29 to reach him by cell phone with no success, but didn’t know of his status as a deserter until reporters told them, Nosseir said.

Neither Morgan nor Nosseir could confirm broadcast reports that Hassoun may have gone to Canada or Lebanon.

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 Hassoun looking as if he were a hostage, blindfolded and with a sword behind his head.

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

Hassoun was chargewd 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 Hassoun to hire a civilian lawyer to assist his military attorneys.


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