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Subject: Marine translator: 'I did not desert my post'

Freedom Fighter
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Date Posted: 19:30:42 07/20/04 Tue

QUANTICO, Virginia (CNN) -- A U.S. Marine translator once reported captured in Iraq denied Monday that he had deserted and urged fellow Marines there to "keep their heads up and their spirits high."

Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun disappeared June 19 from a Marine camp outside Fallujah and emerged July 7 at the home of relatives in Lebanon.

When first reported missing, Hassoun was listed as a deserter. But that status was changed to "captured" after the release of a videotape June 27 showing the Marine blindfolded, with a sword being held over his head.

"I did not desert my post," Hassoun told reporters Monday. "I was captured and held against my will by anticoalition forces for 19 days.

"This was a very difficult and challenging time for me," Hassoun said.

Hassoun made his brief statement at the Marine Corps base at Quantico, where he has been undergoing "repatriation" -- a series of examinations and debriefings given to former military captives.

"Since my release I have been fully participating in the repatriation process. I thank everyone who was looking for me and give thanks to God for everything," Hassoun said.

Hassoun asked to make the statement because he was "concerned with some of the information that has been out there," Marine Corps spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Lapan said.

An investigation into Hassoun's disappearance is under way, but the Navy's Criminal Investigative Service has not yet questioned him, Lapan said.

Lapan said Hassoun's statement was reviewed by the Marines to make sure no secrets were being divulged -- "But I can tell you that as a result of that review, not one word was changed."

The repatriation process allows former captives to "decompress," undergo debriefing and be re-integrated into their units. Hassoun's brother has been allowed to join him at Quantico, Lapan said.

Lapan said Hassoun will soon move to his unit's home base at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and will rejoin his unit "to the extent possible."

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Another islamic liarPeaceful Islam KIlls20:44:43 07/21/04 Wed

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