8 Jun 2006

American military officer makes a stand against Iraqi war

6:01 am on 8 June 2006

An officer from Hawaii is today expected to become the first American military officer to publicly refuse orders to deploy to Iraq.

The officer, 1st Lieutenant Ehren Watada, sought to get out of being sent to Iraq in January, and later asked again because he considers the war immoral and illegal.

His lawyer, Eric Seitz, says as a result of the refusal, Lieutenant Watada has decided to make a public announcement at a news conference.

"What is important is that we generate as much public opinion and support for him as possible. He is taking a very courageous stance. The stance which he is taking is one that is in fact supported by many people, because of the feelings the people have about this war. So I hope that public opinion will play some role in this and that people will support him. So that sooner or later the army and the government will realise that they have to get their troops out of Iraq and that they have got to end what has become a very disgraceful exercise."

Eric Seitz says they have asked the army to assign Lieutenant Watada to other duties, but he says the army is drawing a hard line.

Lieutenant Watada may face up to several years in prison, if he continues to refuse orders.