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Marine twice accused of desertion is back in U.S. custody

By Dana Ford, CNN
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun has been declared a deserter twice
  • He is accused of disappearing in Iraq, and then failing to report for duty in North Carolina
  • Hassoun is scheduled to arrive in Norfolk, Virginia, on Sunday

(CNN) -- A U.S. Marine corporal who was declared a deserter twice has turned himself in to authorities and is on his way to Virginia.

Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun failed to report for duty in January 2005 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, the Marine Corps said in a statement. He is expected to arrive in Norfolk, Virginia, on Sunday.

"The Naval Criminal Investigative Service worked with Cpl. Hassoun to turn himself in and return to the United States to face charges under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice," the statement read.

Hassoun, 34, is believed to have been in Lebanon for much of the time he was gone, according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to talk to the media. It was not immediately clear where he turned himself in to authorities.

U.S. Marine Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun.
U.S. Marine Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun.

Before his 2005 disappearance, he had disappeared in Iraq, just one year earlier. The Marines charged Hassoun, who served as a truck driver and translator, with desertion and theft.

Hassoun denied deserting then and was not held in confinement. Marine officials did not believe he was a flight risk because he had turned himself in in Lebanon.

Hassoun disappeared from a Marine camp outside the Iraqi city of Falluja in June 2004. Originally listed as a deserter, his status was changed to "captured" after the release of a videotape showing him blindfolded, with a sword hanging over his head.

Islamist Web sites reported that he had been executed by an Iraqi militant group, but Hassoun turned up with relatives in Lebanon and was returned to the United States.

He failed to report in North Carolina after authorized leave to see his family in West Jordan, Utah, Marine official said.

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CNN's Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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