The Law Offices of Haytham Faraj, PLLC
Haytham Faraj undertook representation of Cpl Wassef Hassoun to challenge charges that he deserted Iraq in 2004 and became a fugitive in 2005. An Article 32 hearing was held on Thursday August 21, 2014, to determine whether the allegations are substantiated.
When Cpl Hassoun was abducted on June 19, 2004, military investigators assumed that he had fled. Despite there being no evidence of flight. They began to selectively pick and choose evidence to support their narrative of events. They collected statements from people who say he was unhappy in Iraq and ignored statements from others who say they saw him on June 18 and he seemed happy, jovial and joking around. Two weeks after his disappearance, he turned up in Lebanon and informed the U.S. Embassy in an attempt to return to the United States. Upon his return, the Arab-American Marine did not receive a heros welcome, something normally afforded to service members who are captured and escape. On the contrary, he was treated as a criminal who deserted despite any evidence supporting the allegation that he fled.
On January 3, 2005, while on military leave Cpl Hassoun went to Lebanon. Soon after arriving in Lebanon, he was sumoned by Lebanese security officials and notified that he was not allowed to leave Lebanon becasue he is under investigation for violating Article 85, 108 and 121 of the UCMJ. The charges were the same as those levied at Hassoun by military prosecutors. For the nexy eight years Hassoun fought the charges. In 2013 a Lebanese military tribunal found him guilty despite a substantial lack of evidence and fined him.
Once the travel restriction was lifted Hassoun made contact with U.S. authorities for assistance to return to the U.S. with his family. Upon his return to the U.S he was charged with the former charges of desertion and with additional charges related to his failure to return in January 2005. Despite his efforts to return, the Marine Corps ordered him into custody pending trial. Hassoun’s family remains in Lebanon.