Soldier sues Army for conscientious objector status

The Associated Press, October 19, 2007

Los Angeles, USA -- A Malaysian citizen who became a U.S. soldier sued the Army on Friday seeking discharge as a conscientious objector, claiming his Buddhist-Taoist beliefs prevent him from being involved in killing.

According to the lawsuit filed in federal court, Army Spc. Calvin Chee Keong Lee, 26, applied for release earlier this year after finding out that his unit would be deployed to Iraq.

The U.S. Army denied the application in August, finding that Lee had not presented convincing evidence that his religious beliefs warranted conscientious objector status.

"Every official who saw his face recommended he be released," said Lee's attorney, Deborah Karpatkin. The American Civil Liberties Union is also backing his case.

Lee, a Malaysian citizen, joined the Army in 2004 after attending a job fair in San Francisco where a recruiter allegedly told him he could stay at Fort Irwin and repair trucks instead of being deployed into combat. His tour of duty was extended under the military's stop-loss policy in December.

His unit was initially scheduled to deploy to Iraq last summer but is now expected to leave Nov. 9, Karpatkin said. Lee has now been assigned to a rear detachment and may not be deployed, she said.

A call to Fort Irwin was not immediately returned.