USA: Conscientious objector Cliff Cornell sentenced to one year in prison
On 28 April 2009, US conscientious objector Cliff Cornell was sentenced to one year in prison and a bad conduct discharge.
Spc. Cliff Cornell walked away from the 1st Batallon, 39th Artillery Regiment in Fort Stewart, Georgia in January 2005 and spent four years in Canada before the Canadian government denied him asylum as a war objector. Cornell went back to the U.S. and turned himself in to authorities in February to avoid being deported.
The 28-year-old soldier from Mountain Home, Ark., sobbed in a Fort Stewart courtroom Tuesday as he told the judge he was sorry. He said he fled to Canada in January 2005, a month before his 3rd Infantry Division unit was scheduled to deploy to Iraq, because he feared for his own life and couldn't stomach the thought of killing.
"It was wrong for me to leave my unit and go to Canada," Cornell said. "I was very anxious about whether I might be asked to do things that might violate my conscience. I felt trapped. I didn't know what to do."
The judge, Col. Tara Osborn, also ordered Cornell's rank be reduced to private and for him to receive a bad conduct discharge.
Cornell is the third U.S. service member to be tried by the military for fleeing to Canada.
Cornell's attorney James Branum said Cornell would be housed temporarily in one of the nearby county jails until he's assigned to a military prison. He said he planned to appeal the sentence to Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo, Fort Stewart's commander, who could reduce the sentence.
War Resisters' International calls for letters of protest to the US government, and US authorities abroad. A protest email to US President Barack Obama can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/node/7496.
War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release of conscientious objector Cliff Cornell and all imprisoned conscientious objectors.
War Resisters' International