Germany denies Asylum to US Iraq deserter
Germany has denied asylum to Andre Shepherd, a former US Soldier who deserted his unit in Iraq citing opposition to the war, a spokesman for the federal office for migration and refugees said on Tuesday.
"The asylum claim was rejected because there is no evidence to suggest that the asylum seeker could have been involved in war crimes or other crimes during another posting to Iraq," the office said in a statement.
"He could not cite any concrete crimes his unit committed during his first tour. In addition, as a helicopter mechanic, he was not in danger of becoming involved in fighting and therefore in possible crimes," added the office.
Shepherd, 33, originally from Cleveland, Ohio, walked off his base in southern Germany in 2007 and spent 19 months on the run before applying for asylum...
Read the rest here.
Shepherd has apparently become quite the poster child for the anti-war groups, and seems to be reveling in his infamy. You only have to do an internet search and find he has done all sorts of interviews (go to YouTube for those,) and his name and story appear in many hard copy media.
I am not going to rehash and add to his celebrity, except for this one article I found from January 2009:
U.S. Deserter 'Having Time of My Life' as He Seeks Asylum in GermanyJANUARY 29, 2009
By MIKE ESTERL
KARLSRUHE, Germany -- Germany has been very good to Spec. André L. Shepherd since he deserted the U.S. Army.
The 31-year-old former mechanic of the 601st Aviation Support Battalion is enjoying perks that eluded him back home in Ohio: a bed, a bank account, a cellphone and friends.
Best of all from his standpoint, he isn't back in Iraq.
"I'm having the time of my life," says Mr. Shepherd, the only American bunking at a refugee-processing center in southern Germany.
The U.S. deserter enters uncharted legal territory on Wednesday, when Germany begins weighing his request for political asylum. The case will put to the test a 2004 European Union directive requiring member countries to grant asylum to soldiers protesting unlawful wars.
Mr. Shepherd could wind up in a U.S. jail if his application is rejected, but a favorable ruling could open a new escape hatch for Americans stationed in Germany who want to avoid combat duty in Iraq. About 38,000 American soldiers are stationed in Germany, a key logistical hub for the U.S. Army.
Mr. Shepherd has no shortage of supporters. Punk rockers gave him shelter after he decamped from a military base near Nuremberg in 2007 and went into hiding. Dozens of peace organizations have championed his cause since he turned himself in to German authorities late last year and applied for asylum....(read the rest here)
I guess we'll see now just how strong Shepherd's convictions (pun intended) are. If he REALLY believes in his stand, he will return to the US and accept whatever penalties the US military sees fit to impose.