SAN DIEGO (AP) — Two Canadian Parliament members on Sunday visited a U.S. Army deserter being held in a brig in San Diego after unsuccessfully trying 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 the Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in San Diego where Long is serving a 15-month sentence after pleading guilty last August to a reduced charge of desertion.
During the 45-minute meeting, the government officials were not allowed to take notes or record the interview. Chow said Long appeared in good spirits and did not complain, but told them that he missed his young son in Canada.
"My heart sank, it was very heavy," Chow said after the meeting. "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.
The lower house of Canada’s Parliament passed a nonbinding motion in June urging that U.S. military deserters be allowed to stay in Canada, but the Conservative Party government has ignored the vote.
During his sentencing last year, Long, who had been stationed at Fort Collins, Colo., told a military judge that he left over moral objections.
Wrzesnewskyj said he was troubled to learn from Long that he was handed over in handcuffs and had to surrender his military documents to Canadian authorities.
"He took a principled stand against the war in Iraq and he has borne severe consequences," Wrzesnewsky said.
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