Marine accused of desertion in US custody

A Marine corporal who disappeared nearly a decade ago and faces a desertion charge has turned himself in to the military, The Associated Press reports

Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, 34, is being moved to his original base at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina on Monday, Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Eric Flanagan told the AP. 

Hassoun was flown from an undisclosed location in the Middle East to Norfolk, Va., on Sunday.

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A two-star general at Camp Lejeune will decide within days whether to settle the case.   

Hassoun was charged with desertion in 2004 when he disappeared for a second time in the middle of legal proceedings before the military in the U.S. He reportedly disappeared during a visit with relatives in West Jordan that December. 

It’s unclear where he spent the last nine years. 

The military had been investigating whether he intentionally left his base in Iraq in June that year. In July, he appeared in Beirut unharmed and claimed Islamic extremists had kidnapped him. 

A week after his initial disappearance, the AP notes he appeared in a photo blindfolded with a sword above his head on Al Jazeera TV. The National Islamic Resistance/1920 Revolution Brigade took responsibility. 

Hassoun was born in Lebanon and became a naturalized U.S. citizen. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2002 and disappeared from his camp in Fallujah when he was serving as an Arabic translator.

Flanagan told the AP that Hassoun’s case is unrelated to Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was rescued by U.S. special operations forces last month after Taliban held him captive for nearly five years. Bergdahl, who might face desertion charges, was swapped for five Guantánamo Bay detainees.