Nanaimo Daily News:
Gabriola Island peace activist Jean McLaren can't wait to get the party started.
McLaren and others on the island started a letter-writing campaign to convince U.S. authorities to release army deserter Cliff Cornell from prison last year after the 28-year-old man, a former grocery clerk at the Village Food Market, was jailed in the U.S.
Cornell was released from an American prison Saturday, one month before the end of his year-long jail sentence.
He said that it was the support and letters from the people of Gabriola that helped persuade American officials to release him early. He said that he wants to return to Gabriola Island.
"We all wrote to him and to the American authorities," said Gabriola's Ann Buttrick, who found out Cornell was going to be released when she received a letter from him recently. "I very much want to try to come back to Canada. The support I got has been really overwhelming," Cornell said. McLaren and others on Gabriola plan to welcome him back with open arms.
In 2008, Cornell said that he joined the U.S. Army in 2002 because he needed a job and because "slick" recruiters" promised him he wouldn't have to fight in the Iraq war.
He spent about two years at an Army complex in Georgia before finding out his regiment was about to ship out for Iraq.
Cornell deserted and headed to Canada, ending up on Gabriola, where he spent three years working at the market, forging strong bonds with residents there.
"Everybody on Gabriola knew him and liked him," said Buttrick. "I thought he was a nice, quiet, pleasant kid." More.
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