August 14, 2008 / 5:08 PM / 11 years ago

U.S. deserter to appeal Canada deportation order

OTTAWA, Aug 14 (Reuters) - An American who deserted the U.S. Army to protest the Iraq War and who has has been ordered deported back home will file a new appeal in Canada’s Federal Court, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Jeremy Hinzman is the first U.S. deserter in recent years to apply for refugee status in Canada. Immigration authorities determined that he did not face persecution or hardship if he were returned to the United States and told him on Wednesday he had until Sept. 23 to leave the country.

"It’s our government acting as an enforcement agent for the Pentagon," said Lee Zaslofsky of the War Resisters Support Campaign, himself a Vietnam War-era deserter from the U.S. Army who has since become a Canadian.

Hinzman’s lawyer, Alyssa Manning, said the decision on whether he faced hardship did not take into account the effect on his family if he ended up in prison, and she will be appealing the case.

In November, the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear an appeal by Hinzman of determinations, backed in two subsequent court rulings, that he was not a refugee in need of protection.

Hinzman deserted in 2004, when he received orders to go to Iraq. In the United States, he faces a possible court martial and up to five years in prison. Another U.S. deserter, Robin Long, was deported in July and is in jail in Colorado.

During the Vietnam War, Canada was a haven for tens of thousands of U.S. draft dodgers and deserters and has attracted an estimated 175 to 200 Americans who are resisting the Iraq conflict.

One distinction that has been drawn in the debates over the issue is that Hinzman and the others who came to Canada in the last few years were volunteers rather than conscripts, as was the case during the Vietnam War.

The House of Commons, dominated by opposition parties, passed a nonbinding motion in June urging the minority Conservative government to let conscientious objectors stay in Canada. (Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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