Published by the San Diego Union Tribune
SAN DIEGO: Two Canadian Parliament members yesterday visited a U.S. Army deserter being held in a brig at the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station after he unsuccessfully tried to seek refuge in Canada.
Robin Long, 25, of Boise, Idaho, fled to Canada in 2005 to avoid serving in Iraq but was deported last summer after losing a court battle to stay in that country. Long became the first American resister to the Iraq war to be removed by Canadian authorities.
Parliamentarians Olivia Chow and Borys Wrzesnewskyj traveled to Miramar, where Long is serving a 15-month sentence after pleading guilty in August to a reduced charge of desertion.
During the 45-minute meeting, the officials were not allowed to take notes or record the interview. Chow said Long appeared in good spirits and did not complain, but he told them that he missed his young son in Canada.
“My heart sank, it was very heavy,” Chow said. “I was angry that Canada deported him.”
Some 200 American deserters are thought to have fled to Canada to avoid service in Iraq. None so far have been granted refugee status. During the Vietnam War, an estimated 90,000 Americans won refuge in Canada, mostly to avoid the draft.
Long enlisted in 2003. After the Army ordered him to Iraq in 2005, he fled to Canada. During his military trial, he told a judge that he left over moral objections.
Local war protesters have demonstrated in front of a Miramar gate in support of Long.