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Marine who disappeared from Iraq unit will be tried for desertion

A U.S. Marine who vanished from his unit in Iraq will be tried on desertion charges, the U.S. military announced Friday.

Cpl. Wassef Hassoun, 34, was in Lebanon for eight years after disappearing from his Fallujah, Iraq, unit in 2004. Roughly a week after his disappearance, a photo of Hassoun with a sword above his head was allegedly released by rebels. Hassoun, a U.S. citizen who grew up in Lebanon, told the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon that he was kidnapped by extremists, but the military doubted his story, The Associated Press reports.

Maj. Gen. William D. Beydler referred Hassoun to a general court-martial, and Hassoun faces charges of desertion, larceny, and destruction of government property, according to a Marine statement. Defense attorney Haytham Faraj told AP that Lebanese authorities kept Hassoun from leaving the country. Faraj argued that the desertion charges against Hassoun are baseless, because he did not exhibit an intent not to return to the Marines.

Hassoun's trial will be held at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where he is being held. The date of his trial has not yet been announced.