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US Army soldier who fled to Canada to avoid Iraq service pleads guilty to desertion

[JURIST] A US Army soldier who fled to Canada to avoid serving in the Iraq war pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of desertion. Spc. Cliff Cornell [advocacy profile] was sentenced to one year in prison [AP report] at a court-martial proceeding and was also given a bad conduct discharge. Cornell spent four years in Canada, but was denied asylum by the Canadian government in February. Canadian advocacy group War Resisters Support Campaign [advocacy website] decried Cornell's sentence, calling the Iraq War "illegal and immoral." Cornell had reportedly become actively involved [Montreal Gazette report] with the group.

Several other US soldiers have sought asylum in Canada. In 2005, US Army Pvt. Brandon Hughey [advocacy website], who fled to Canada after refusing a deployment order to Iraq and deserting his unit at Fort Hood, formally asked [JURIST report] the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board [official website] for asylum. Hughey's application was denied, and he is currently waiting to find out whether he will be allowed to remain in Canada. Several others are also appealing denials of asylum.

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