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Soldier who refused to deploy freed

PORTLAND - Army Pvt. Suzanne Swift, who said she had been sexually harassed by officers and refused to return to duty in Iraq, was freed We dnesday.

Swift, 22, had been confined at Fort Lewis since December after pleading guilty to being absent without leave as part of a plea agreement with the Army, which included a demotion.

Swift served in Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005. Her unit was sent back to Iraq in January 2006, but she refused to go and stayed away for about five months.

Swift said that her supervisor in Iraq coerced her into a sexual relationship, and that other superiors had harassed or abused her.

The Army substantiated her allegations against one soldier at Fort Lewis. That soldier later left the Army after a reprimand from his battalion commander and reassignment to another unit.

Swift was arrested in June. Her plea, which came during a summary court-martial, helped her avoid a federal conviction.

"She is basically moving on with her career," said Keith Scherer, Swift's lawyer who specializes in military cases. "It's a phenomenal result."

The Oregon soldier is heading to Eugene to see her family, said her mother, Sara Rich. And in March, she will leave for California, where she is being reassigned to train as a shipping and ordering clerk, Rich said.

As part of the plea agreement, she will remain in the Army for five years and could eventually earn an honorable discharge.

Rich said the release was bittersweet - she is happy to see her daughter again but frustrated by the problems that Swift's experience represents in the military.

The release signals the end of Swift's legal conflict with the Army, her lawyer said.

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