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Accused Fort Hood gunman seeks to renounce U.S. allegiance ahead of trial

Nidal Hasan, charged with killing 13 people and wounding 31 in a November 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, is pictured in an undated
Nidal Hasan, charged with killing 13 people and wounding 31 in a November 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, is pictured in an undated

By Lisa Maria Garza

DALLAS (Reuters) - Accused Fort Hood gunman Nidal Hasan declared his wish to renounce his U.S. citizenship and military oath in several pages of documents furnished to Fox News on Thursday, days before his court-martial is slated to begin.

Hasan, an American-born Muslim and U.S. Army major, is charged with opening fire on the Army post in Texas in November 2009, killing 13 people and wounding 32 others.

Two civilian Fort Hood police officers shot Hasan, ending the rampage and leaving the Army psychiatrist paralyzed from the chest down.

His trial was repeatedly delayed over procedural issues, such as whether he should be exempt from military grooming standards and allowed to keep his beard, which Hasan said he wears for religious reasons.

He is acting as his own attorney in his court-martial, scheduled to begin at the base on August 6. If convicted he could face execution or life in prison without parole.

Fox News said the documents, which it posted online, were furnished to the cable network at Hasan's request by his attorney for civil matters, John Galligan.

In an email reply to Reuters, Galligan verified that the documents delivered to the cable network were from Hasan, but he declined to answer any further questions. (Typed statement: http://r.reuters.com/neg22v)

One of the posted declarations, dated October 18, 2012, and written by hand, states that he is "compelled to renounce any oaths of allegiances that require me to support/defend any man made constitution (like the Constitution of the United States) over the commandments mandated in Islam." (Handwritten statement: http://r.reuters.com/meg22v)

It goes on to say: "I therefore formally renounce my oath of office as well as any other implicit or explicit oaths I have made in the past ... This includes my oath of U.S. citizenship."

Because Hasan, 42, is a native U.S. citizen, born in Arlington, Virginia, he would never have taken an oath of citizenship. And according to U.S. law, the type of written declaration posted online would have no legal force.

Federal law requires an individual wishing to renounce American citizenship to appear in person before a U.S. consular or diplomatic officer in a foreign country and sign an oath of renunciation, according to a U.S. State Department website.

The declarations on Thursday come five days after Hasan issued a separate public pronouncement through Fox News, a six-page statement in which he apologized for having participated in what he called "illegal and immoral aggression" against Muslims by serving in the U.S. military.

Hasan said at a pre-trial hearing that he opened fire at Fort Hood to protect Muslims and the Taliban in Afghanistan from U.S. assaults. The base is a major center for soldiers deployed to Afghanistan.

(Editing by Steve Gorman, Eric Walsh and Lisa Shumaker)

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