Judge Rules Against Watada's Planned Defense

Lt. Ehren Watada in July 2006
Lt. Ehren Watada in July 2006

FORT LEWIS, Wash. (AP) - A military judge has ruled that 1st Lieutenant Ehren Watada cannot base his court-martial defense on the war's legality.

Watada called the Iraq war illegal and refused to deploy last year. Lawyers for the 28-year-old had planned to argue at the February 5th trial that the war was illegal because it violated Army regulations.

But in a ruling released yesterday, Lieutenant Colonel John Head says it's a political question that cannot be judged in a military court.

Head says there are limits to the free-speech rights of military personnel.

Watada is from Hawaii and is charged with missing troop movement last year.

He faces up to six years in prison.

Watada's lawyer says his defendant has been stripped of every defense.