[JURIST] US Army First Lt. Ehren Watada [JURIST news archive] has won discharge from military service after a three year battle to avoid redeployment in Iraq, according to media reports Friday. Watada sought to leave the army [Honolulu Star Bulletin report] in 2006 in objection to the war in Iraq, arguing that by participating in it, he would be committing war crimes for which he could later be tried. Discharged "under other than honorable circumstances," Watada had at one point faced the prospect of a second court-martial after an initial military mistrial, but the case against him was dropped [JURIST reports] in May. Charges laid against him included conduct unbecoming an officer [NYT report] for Watada's comments about the war, and failure to show up for deployment. Watada will be formally discharged on October 2.
Watada, a Honolulu native who was the first commissioned officer in the US military to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq, refused to be classified as a conscientious objector because he did not object to war in general, just to the "illegal" war in Iraq. He offered to serve in Afghanistan, but the Army refused. His vocal protests and participation in rallies by Veterans for Peace and Courage to Resist [advocacy websites] led to the charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and the original charge of contempt toward officials.