A US Soldier went AWOL, only to turn up fighting as a mercenary in the Ukraine, where is is considered a hero and is currently avoiding extradition by the United States.
Craig Lang, who was discharged from the armed forces after he went AWOL, has been fighting in the Ukraine since 2015, going toe-to-toe with Russian-backed (and in many case, Russian) military forces as various factions skirmish for territory in the former Soviet satellite state.
Currently married to a Ukranian woman (who is six months pregnant) and a veteran of the revered Azov Battalion, Lang is considered a hero by the locals and is somewhat of a local celebrity.
In the United States, however, Lang is wanted for murder.
It is believed that Lang and fellow American Azov veteran Alex Zwiefelhofer were responsible for gunning down Serafin Lorenzo and his wife, Deana, during a firearms deal gone wrong in Florida’s Lee County.
Lang and his supporters, however, maintain his innocence, and have resisted all requests by the US to extradite him to his home country for arrest and subsequent trial.
“We know that in the US, he is very negative person in mass media,” Dmitry Morgun, Lang’s defense lawyer, told NBC News. “In Ukraine, he is not. In Ukraine, he was a hero. He defends our interests and our country.”
The very topic of handing Lang over is a sore spot between the US and Ukraine, and the Ukraine’s national prosecutor’s office has asked the US Justice Department that if Lang be spared the death penalty if he is handed over and found guilty.
American law enforcement have described Lang as “heartless,” while Ukranians know him as a English teacher, paramedic, soon to be father of a Ukranian-American child and a hero of the sovereignty conflict that rocked the nation in recent years.
Lang had previously enlisted in the US Army at age 18, and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He was later discharged six-and-a-half years later after he drove from Texas to North Carolina without permission, telling people he was going to kill his now-former wife.
In relation to the killing of the Lorenzos, Zwiefelhofer was arrested in Wisconsin in May, after he was caught lying on a gun purchase form. Both Zwiefelhofter and Lang maintain their innocence.
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