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Web site seeks Navy fugitive

A controversial Web site is urging a Navy petty officer from Whidbey who escaped from a military brig to turn himself in, while warning the military and law enforcement not to gun him down or harm him.

The Web site, MilitaryCorrup

tion.com, features a story about James Praefke, 37, and an undated photo of him with FOX News personality Oliver North. The story claims that Praefke is innocent of the explosives-related charges he was convicted of and that he escaped in frustration from the brig at the Kitsap Navy Base, the Bangor submarine base, last November.

Praefke, a former petty officer first class with VAQ-133 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, was in the military jail for smuggling a grenade home to Whidbey from Afghanistan. He was sentenced last fall to three years in prison after pleading guilty to stealing ammunition, illegally storing explosives and making false official statements. He was also investigated for indecent acts with a child, but was acquitted.

Lt. Cmdr. John Daniels, public affairs officer for Navy Region Northwest, said the military and Naval Criminal Investigative Service haven’t found any trace of Praefke since he walked away from the brig.

Daniels said Praefke will be treated safely and humanely if he turns himself in.

“The right thing for him to do is to turn himself in...” Daniels said. “If he’s innocent like he claims he is, then he can prove that in the appeals process.”

Navy officials and Praefke’s mother, Linda James of Florida, received letters from Praefke in January, postmarked in Long Beach, Calif. The letters outlined Praefke’s concerns about the criminal trial, which he felt was unfair.

Also, he questioned the accuracy of information the NCIS placed in an all-points bulletin sent to law enforcement and the media. The original bulletin inaccurately stated he was convicted of child sex abuse. NCIS later corrected the information.

Glenn MacDonald, the editor of the MilitaryCorruption.com and a Vietnam veteran, wrote that NCIS released inflammatory and inaccurate information about Praefke that “could cause a much-decorated petty officer to be shot dead on sight.”

Praefke is still on NCIS’s most-wanted list. NCIS reports that he “should be considered armed and dangerous and likely to resist arrest. Praefke has threatened suicide at various times throughout his adult life. He is known to use firearms; possesses an interest in bomb making and improvised explosive devices. He has expressed anti-law enforcement and anti-government views to family and friends.”

The military and NCIS took Praefke’s escape very seriously. The Navy moved his ex-wife and her children to an undisclosed location for their safety.

MilitaryCorruption.com states that Praefke’s mother asked them to help her save her son’s life.

“She has hired famed military defense attorney John ‘Bull-Dog’ Wells, a retired Navy commander, to negotiate Jim Praefke’s ‘peaceful’ surrender,” the Web site states.

MilitaryCorruption.com is run by retired military personnel and journalists. It has ties to conservative groups, like Combat Vets Against Kerry.

Praefke was wearing desert camouflage when he escaped. He is described as six-foot, three-inches, 220 pounds with green eyes and red hair. He has an alias of James Krueger.

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