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Previously Missing US Marine Travels to Germany for Debriefing - 2004-07-09


A Lebanese-born U.S. Marine who turned up in his native country after disappearing in Iraq was flown to Germany on Friday for debriefing. He spent the night at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, where officials say he'd turned himself in voluntarily.

The public affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Elizabeth Wharton, gave a brief statement following the departure of Marine Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun to Germany.

"The latest is that the corporal, Hassoun, departed Beirut at about 3:35 local time in the afternoon on a military transport, and all further inquires about his case should be referred to the Department of Defense," she announced.

The U.S. Marine disappeared from his unit in Iraq on June 21, and there had been conflicting reports about his whereabouts ever since, including reports last week on a militant Muslim website that the 24-year-old corporal had been beheaded.

U.S. military officials say an investigation into how and why he disappeared is now under way.

The circumstances regarding how Corporal Hassoun got back to Lebanon also remain unclear. His brother, Sami Hassoun, from the Lebanese city of Tripoli told reporters Friday that Wassef Ali Hassoun was on his way to Germany and would then head for the United States, where he moved four years ago.

Officials said the Marine left Beirut aboard a U.S. Air Force transport taking him to a medical center in Germany for debriefing and examination.

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