National Security

Magistrate in Alaska backs soldier on discharge request

ANCHORAGE — The Army should grant conscientious objector status to Pfc. Michael Barnes, a Fort Richardson-based paratrooper who had his request for that designation denied last year, U.S. Magistrate John D. Roberts concluded Tuesday.

In a 26-page recommendation to the U.S. District Court, Roberts noted that the Army failed to show "any basis in fact" to support its decision to deny Barnes' petition to be honorably discharged due to his religious beliefs.

At the same time, the record includes strong reasons to justify the request, including Barnes' own testimony, supporting letters from fellow soldiers and the opinion of an Army chaplain, the judge said.

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