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Jailed War Resister Camilo Mejia Speaks Out After Spending Nine Months in Military Prison

StoryFebruary 23, 2005
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Today we speak with one the country’s first conscientious objector’s to the war in Iraq. He offered to testify before Congress about the abuse of detainees he saw in Iraq, instead he was the first soldier court-martialed for desertion. He was sentenced to a year in military prison. Today Camilo Mejia joins us in his first broadcast interview since getting out of prison.

He was released last week after serving a nine-month sentence. Mejia spent six months in combat in Iraq where he witnessed the killing of civilians and the abuse of detainees. He returned to the United States in October 2003 for a two-week leave when he decided never to return to fight in Iraq. He went into hiding to avoid redeployment and was classified as AWOL–or Absent Without Leave–by the military. After five months on the run, he surrendered to the military at Ft. Stewart, Georgia and submitted a formal application for discharge as a conscientious objector. His application was denied. In May 2004, a military jury convicted him of desertion and he was sentenced to one year in prison. He was released last week after serving nine months of his sentence.

In the first interview since his release, Camilo Mejia joins us today to talk about his experience as the country’s first soldier to be jailed for refusing to return to fight in Iraq.

  • Sgt Camilo Mejia, Camilo spent six months in combat in Iraq, then returned for a 2-week furlough to the US. He concluded that the war was illegal and immoral, and decided that he would not return. In May of 2004, he was sentenced to one year in prison for refusing to return to fight in Iraq. Camilo was just released on February 15th after serving 9 months.

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