Army Deserter Seeks Asylum in Germany

AWOL soldier says Iraqi war violates international law
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2008 7:08 PM CST
U.S. Army Spc. Alexander McMillan, 22, stands guard near a "Sons of Iraq" checkpoint guarded by a U.S.-backed Sunni fighter in the village of Abu Seeyah in Diyala province, Iraq, Dec. 3, 2008.   (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
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(Newser) – Specialist André Shepherd has become the first US military deserter to apply for political asylum in Germany, Der Spiegel reports. Shepherd, who disobeyed orders to redeploy to Iraq from Germany in the spring of 2007, argues in his petition that the Iraq war violates international law. "If I carried out my orders, it would make me a criminal," said the 31-year-old Cleveland native.

Shepherd has a reasonable chance for a favorable ruling: a court last year reversed the demotion of a German military officer who refused to work on a computer program that would have been used to manage operations in Iraq. The judges wrote at the time that they had “serious reservations” about the Iraq war’s legality. If his legal bid fails, Shepherd will likely be deported to the US and sent to military prison.