Page last updated at 14:13 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 15:13 UK

Canada deports US army deserter

Us tank crew on patrol in Mosul
Robin Long fled to Canada as his unit prepared to deploy to Iraq

A soldier who deserted from the US army and sought refugee status in Canada has been deported to the US, the first sent back since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Robin Long fled to Canada in 2005 as his unit was preparing to be deployed.

He applied for refugee status in 2006, claiming he would suffer irreparable harm if he was forced to participate in an "illegal war of aggression".

Mr Long was arrested last year after his application was turned down and was subsequently told to leave the country.

On Tuesday, a federal court in Vancouver refused to suspend the deportation order.

Judge Anne Mactavish said he had not convincingly proven that the 25-year-old would suffer irreparable harm if he returned to the US.


A spokeswoman for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Shakila Manzoor, confirmed that Mr Long, who volunteered for the US military in 2003, had been "expelled from Canada and returned to his country of origin" on Tuesday evening.

The Canadian Globe and Mail newspaper reported that Mr Long later spent the night in a jail cell at the Whatcom County prison, just south of the US-Canada border.

There are thought to be about 200 deserters from the US military living in Canada.

Earlier this month, a Canadian court ordered the country's refugee board to re-examine the case of another deserter, Joshua Key, whose application for asylum in Canada had been rejected.

The court ruled that the board made mistakes when it turned down Mr Key's claim.

He had served in Iraq in 2003 before deserting to Canada with his family while on leave.

During the Vietnam War, tens of thousands of Americans, many of them trying to avoid being drafted into the military, sought refuge in Canada.

Most of them returned to the US after being granted an amnesty in 1977.

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