US AWOL soldier Andre Shepherd denied political asylum in Germany

The German Federal Bureau of Migration and Refugees denied the asylum application of US AWOL soldier Andre Shepherd, Connection e.V. reported. In its negative decision, the Federal Bureau writes, “But whether the helicopters he maintained and their crews actually participated in specific illegal actions (contrary to international law) has neither been stated sufficiently, nor can it be determined specifically otherwise. According to the applicant’s statements, he himself was also not able, during his first Iraq deployment, to find out details on the missions of the helicopters serviced by him or his unit. Accordingly, the applicant’s deliberations on the potential participation of ‘his’ helicopters in possible illegal acts and war crimes constitute at most conjectures or a hypothetical possibility.

Peace and refugee-aid organisations in Germany that support André Shepherd denounced the decision of the Federal Bureau, and announced that they would continue to support him in his suit. “This shows that the German authorities are seeking to avoid any conflict with the USA, at the expense of those who put their bodies on the line to oppose the war in Iraq, which even the Federal government at the time considered to be in violation of international law,” said Rudi Friedrich of the support network for conscientious objectors, Connection e.V., today. Attorney-at-law Reinhard Marx stated: “With this rejection and its interpretation of the EU Qualification Directive, which is contrary to European law, the Federal Bureau is attempting to destroy the protection for deserters and conscientious objectors envisaged by the Directive. The background for this is obviously the intention of the German government to give priority to German legal principles over European law.

André Shepherd himself showed himself to be disappointed, but also willing to keep up the struggle. “I hoped that the Federal Bureau of Migration itself would accept my application for political asylum. I am still not willing to participate in a crime against humanity, and consider it my right to do so without threat of prosecution. The U.S. military gave me no choice but to go AWOL and seek protection here in Germany.

Andre Shepherd will lodge an appeal against the decision of the Federal Bureau, denying him asylum in Germany.

Sources: New York Times: American Soldier Is Denied Asylum in Germany, 5 April 2011; Connection e.V.: U.S. AWOL soldier Shepherd appeals against the rejection of his application for political asylum, 7 April 2011