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LANDSTUHL, Germany — A U.S. Marine missing for 18 days from his post in Iraq was “very exhausted,” but otherwise in good physical health after being admitted to a U.S. military hospital in Germany, military physicians said Friday.

Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, 24, who was believed to have been captured by Iraqi insurgents before turning up Thursday in Beirut, where his family lives, had suffered from migraine headaches and insomnia during his absence, said Lt. Col. Sally Harvey, a clinical psychologist at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Harvey flew to Beirut and accompanied Hassoun to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where he landed Friday night. Hassoun was admitted to the nearby military hospital at 7:35 p.m.

“His spirits are good. He’s glad to be back. He is very tired," Harvey said during an 11 p.m. news conference at the hospital.

Hassoun was to undergo a three-to-five-day repatriation process, during which the military would gather information “to prevent like circumstances from happening again,” Harvey said.

She said Hassoun had not discussed the circumstances of his absence, but she expected that such details would emerge during a debriefing process that would start Saturday. Intelligence experts and Search, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists will conduct the debriefing.

“We want to give him a chance to tell his story. That will happen tomorrow,” Harvey said.

The circumstances of Hassoun’s absence are still murky.

He had contacted U.S. Embassy officials in Beirut, accompanied by his family members, who are from Tripoli, according to news reports.

He had last been seen on Arab television on June 27, blindfolded with someone holding a sword above his head. Conflicting reports of the details of his capture and possible murder had circulated in the news media for days before Hassoun arrived in Lebanon.

He disappeared June 20 from a Marine camp near Fallujah, where he worked as a truck driver and translator for the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, initially had listed Hassoun as a deserter, but changed that listing to “captured” after the videotape was aired, Marine Maj. Tim Keefe, a spokesman for the service’s Europe command, said at the news conference.

As of Friday, Hassoun was not under guard or being confined while at the hospital, Keefe said.

Any further investigation will not take place until after the repatriation process, Keefe said.

“The focus is not on the investigation. The focus is making sure he is healthy,” Keefe said. During the repatriation process, however, Hassoun is granted confidentiality for any statements he makes, Harvey said.

“The information will not be used against him,” she said.


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