A U.S. Army soldier who fled to Canada after learning his unit was being deployed to Iraq won a last-minute stay of deportation Monday.
Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley ruled Jeremy Hinzman can stay in Canada while the court decides whether he can appeal his deportation order.
"We're elated," Hinzman said moments after the decision was released. "(But) we're not out of the woods at all. We just have a stay of removal."
Hinzman, 29, who holds the rank of specialist, was due to be deported Tuesday morning to the United States, where he is charged with fleeing to avoid duty in Iraq. He had served a tour in Afghanistan during his three years in the Army, but argues the Iraq war is immoral and illegal.
The Canadian government refused his family's application to remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Hinzman asked for the stay while the court decides if that decision should be reviewed.
In his three-page ruling, Mosley wrote, "Based on the evidence and submissions before me, I am satisfied that the applicants would suffer irreparable harm if a stay were not granted."
Hinzman is likely to be court-martialed if he returns to the United States and could face up to five years in prison. Canada's Border Services Agency ordered him last month to leave the country by Sept. 23.
Hinzman, who fled Fort Bragg, N.C., in January 2004, held a noncombat position in the 82nd Airborne Division because he applied for conscientious objector status before his unit left for Afghanistan in 2002.