iraq war resister kimberly rivera sentenced to ten months in prison

Kimberly Rivera, a soldier who fled to Canada in 2007 after becoming disenchanted with the Iraq war, pled guilty to two counts of desertion yesterday. Canadian authorities had rejected her applications for refugee status, permanent residency, and her request to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. After she received two deportation orders, she presented herself at the U.S. border on September 20, 2012 and was taken into military custody.

Rivera was sentenced to 10 months in prison and a bad-conduct discharge. The expected sentence had she not pled guilty was two to five years. According to Huffington Post, her attorney argued that she was unaware that she could have applied for conscientious objector status:

Rivera’s civilian defense attorney, James Matthew Branum, argued that Rivera never filed for status as a conscientious objector because she didn’t know the option was available to her. He said Rivera should have been informed about it when she met with a chaplain in Iraq over concerns that she couldn’t take a life…

Branum focuses on providing pro-bono and low-cost representation to members of the U.S. military seeking discharge on the grounds of conscientious objection. He has facilitated the early discharge of more than 250 servicemembers.