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Marine Will Remain at Quantico Until Fit for Duty

Marine Will Remain at Quantico Until Fit for Duty

Posted - Jul. 16, 2004 at 7:35 a.m.



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QUANTICO, Va. (AP) -- It could be weeks or months before a Marine who disappeared in Iraq and later turned up in Lebanon is deemed fit to return to duty, a spokesman said.

Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun arrived at Quantico Marine base on Thursday after leaving Germany, where he had undergone six days of evaluation at a U.S. military hospital.

Lt. Col. David Lapan, a Marine Corps spokesman, said Hassoun would continue to undergo a "repatriation" process until the military support team monitoring his recovery decides he is ready to go back to work. His home station is Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Hassoun has not been accused of any offense, although the Marines said after he disappeared June 20 in Iraq that he was an "unauthorized absence."

He reappeared July 8 at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. It remains unclear how he traveled from Iraq to Lebanon, where he was born and still has some relatives.

Hassoun has asserted that he was abducted from his base in Iraq. He was not made available at Quantico for questions from reporters.

The Navy has said it is investigating whether the abduction might have been a hoax, but the Naval Criminal Investigation Service is not expected to question Hassoun until his repatriation procedure is completed, the Marine Corps said.

As Hassoun left the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center on Wednesday, he said he was eager to get home.

"I am in good health and spirits, I look forward to my return home to friends and family," he said in a written statement provided to The Associated Press, his first public comment since he vanished from his base near the Iraqi city of Fallujah.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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