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Regional & National

Army: Muslim soldier opposed to war is AWOL

July 20th, 2011 4:04 pm by JANET CAPPIELLO

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Muslim soldier from Fort Campbell, Ky., who won conscientious objector status but then faced a court-martial after being charged with possessing child pornography has gone AWOL, an Army spokesman said Wednesday.

Pfc. Naser Abdo, 21, has been absent without leave since the July 4th weekend, said Rick Rzepka, spokesman for the base that straddles the Kentucky-Tennessee state line.

"I know that he's safe, but other than that, that's all I'm at liberty to share with people," said Abdo's attorney, James Branum.

Abdo, an infantry soldier, had applied for conscientious objector status last year after he decided his Muslim beliefs would prohibit his service in any war. The Deputy Assistant Secretary, Army Review Boards Agency, recommended in June he be separated from the Army as a conscientious objector.

The discharge was soon delayed because of the criminal charge, and Rzepka said an Article 32 hearing last month recommended Abdo for a court-martial. Abdo said last month that he thought he had been charged with a crime because he was seeking to leave the Army as a conscientious objector.

Abdo now faces additional charges related to going AWOL, Rzepka said.

Branum said Abdo didn't want him to make public statements in this situation.

"If and when Abdo goes back, I'll still be on his side helping him," Branum said.

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