Soldier Sues Army For Conscientious Objector Status

A Fort Irwin soldier sued the Army on Friday seeking discharge as a conscientious objector.

Army Spc. Calvin Chee Keong Lee, 26, claimed his Buddhist-Taoist beliefs prevent him from being involved in killing.

According to the suit filed in a Los Angeles federal court, Lee applied for release earlier this year after finding out that his unit would be deployed to Iraq.

The Department of the 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 involved with the 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 Fort Irwin spokesman said he couldn't comment on pending litigation and referred calls to the Army. An after-hours call to an Army spokesperson was not immediately returned.

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