Marine veteran Adam Kokesh faces off against military to protect free speech rights of veterans
IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 31, 2007
In unprecedented case, Marine veteran Adam Kokesh faces off against military to protect free speech rights of veterans
Faces change in “Honorable” discharge status for public stance against the Iraq war
Washington, DC – Marine Corps veteran and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) member, Adam Kokesh, is facing prosecution on June 4th that could result in his discharge status changing from “Honorable” to “Other Than Honorable” due to taking part in activities critical of the U.S. occupation in Iraq. Kokesh, who served in Fallujah in Iraq and was honorably discharged in November 2006, recently rejected a plea bargain offered by the military saying that it “risks the free speech rights of veterans” and threatens “to silence the voices of those whose experiences are most relevant in the most pressing debate before the nation.”
Full details of his case will be shared at a press conference on Friday, June 1st at 5pm, at the courtyard in front of Union Station in Washington DC. Immediately afterward, Kokesh, witnesses in his case, and supporters will depart by bus to Kansas City, MO for the military hearing, scheduled for Monday, June 4th at the Marine Mobilization Command there.
After participating in an Iraq Veterans Against the War demonstration in Washington, DC earlier this year at which he wore parts of his uniform, Adam received a warning from the Marine Corps. His strongly worded email response resulted in the Marines pursuing discharging Adam from his current Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) status with an Other Than Honorable discharge. If this happens, Adam will lose all military benefits and must pay back monies he received thru the G.I. bill to go to college.
Two other IVAW members and fellow Marines, Liam Madden of VT and Cloy Richards of MO, also participated with Kokesh in the DC demonstration and also face punishment from the Marines. Madden, co-founder of the active duty Appeal for Redress (AppealforRedress.org) has been accused of making disloyal statements and wearing his uniform against regulations. He will appear at Friday’s press conference and as a witness for Kokesh at the hearing on June 4th. Richards too has been threatened with losing his disability and other military benefits if he wears any part of his uniform at an anti-war event.
The implications of Kokesh’s hearing may be far reaching, as the prosecution of a IRR military member under these circumstances is unprecedented. “At stake is the right of freedom of speech for the hundreds of thousands of members of the IRR, as well as the nation’s right to get the unbiased truth about Iraq,” stated Garett Reppenhagen, chair of IVAW Board of Directors.
Iraq Veterans Against the War was founded in 2004 to give those who have served in the military since September 11, 2001 a way to come together and speak out against an unjust, illegal and unwinnable war. Today, IVAW is made up of over 450 members in 42 states, Washington, D.C., Canada and serving in bases overseas.