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U.S. soldier who fled to Canada to avoid serving in Iraq court-martialled Monday

United States Iraq war resister Kimberly Rivera speaks at a press conference in Toronto on Friday, August 31, 2012. Rivera, an American soldier who fled to Canada after she became disillusioned with the Iraq war is to be court-martialled Monday.

Aaron Vincent Elkaim/THE CANADIAN PRESS

An American soldier who fled to Canada after she became disillusioned with the Iraq war is to be court-martialled Monday.

Kimberly Rivera has been charged with desertion and faces up to five years in prison and a dishonourable discharge if convicted.

Rivera turned herself over to the United States in September last year after facing a deportation order from the federal government that maintained it didn't believe she would be persecuted in the U.S.

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She was arrested, detained and transferred to U.S. military custody as soon as she crossed the border.

Rivera – who lived in Toronto with her husband and four young children – came to Canada in 2007 to avoid further U.S. military service.

She told reporters before she left Canada that her biggest fear about being deported was being separated from her young children and having to sit in a prison for politically being against the Iraqi conflict.

Rivera is being court-martialled in Fort Carson, Colo., where she has been held since last September.

She was assigned to Fort Carson's 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Colorado and served in Iraq in 2006.

While on a two-week leave in the U.S. in 2007, she crossed the Canadian border after she was ordered to serve another tour in Iraq.

She applied for permanent residency, but Canadian immigration officials ordered her to leave the country or face deportation.

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Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the War Resisters Support Campaign and the American veterans organization Veterans for Peace have spoken out against her deportation.

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