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March 10, 2006

Vietnam War Deserter Arrested At Border

Yesterday Allen Abney, a US Marine who deserted and came to Canada in 1968, was detained by US Border officials as he crossed the border from British Columbia into Idaho. Abney, a dual Canadian/ US citizen, was held in Idaho until he could be transferred to US Marine Corps custody and sent to Camp Pendleton, California, where he faces penalties under military law.

Abney, 56, lives in Kingsgate, BC, close to the Canada/US border, which he crossed often to go shopping, to do errands, and for other purposes. He is retired. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Abney came to Canada with his family in 1959. In 1968 he enlisted in the US Marines. Later that year, he joined thousands of others who fled to Canada because of their opposition to the Vietnam War. He has lived here ever since.

Abney's daughter, Jessica Abney, is shocked and worried by what has happened to her father. "It's been so long since my dad left the military. Why have they suddenly decided to do this now?" she asked. "My dad is not a young man, so of course I'm worried about what's going to happen to him." Ms. Abney is also concerned about the seeming lack of interest shown so far by the Canadian government. "When we called the 800 number, they seemed to just shrug their shoulders. But isn't it their job to help out in these cases?" she said.

"The War Resisters Support Campaign is deeply concerned about what has happened to Allen Abney. Many of our supporters are, like him, Vietnam War resisters. We will do what we can to support him and to help him regain his freedom as soon as possible," said Lee Zaslofsky, Coordinator of the Campaign.

"The detention and possible punishment of Mr. Abney comes at a time when growing numbers of US military personnel, including Marines, are coming to Canada because of their opposition to the Iraq War. It seems pretty clear that Mr. Abney's sudden difficulties are a response to this. As well, it seems the Marine Corps is trying to prevent further desertions by making an example of Mr. Abney. Besides being vindictive, this is unlikely to be effective. The best way to end the US military's problems is to end the war in Iraq immediately," said Zaslofsky.

The detention of Mr. Abney highlights the growing urgency of a Canadian government decision to offer sanctuary to Iraq war resisters, of whom there are now more than twenty in Canada. "Our country is still seen as what Pierre Trudeau called a "refuge from militarism" by many Americans -- and by most Canadians. It's time for the Harper Government to uphold that tradition, and make a provision that will make it possible for Iraq War resisters to settle in Canada as so many Vietnam War resisters like Mr. Abney did several decades ago," Zaslofsky added.


For further information:
Lee Zaslofsky 416 598 1222 or 416 369 0864