N.Y. pastor denies being a war criminal

Posted by admin on Jul 26th, 2011

Tom Godfrey and Rob Lamberti, Toronto Sun. Tuesday, July 26, 2011

TORONTO – New York pastor Francisco Manuel Hernandez Hernandez says he is not a wanted war criminal from El Salvador and is hoping to clear his name. Hernandez Hernandez, 42, said he has family members in Toronto and doesn’t want to be flagged by border agents during his visits to Canada. He was in shock to see his mugshot among those of 30 suspected war criminals who are on the lam from the Canada Border Services Agency. The men are believed to be hiding in Canada to avoid deportation, officials said.

“I don’t know, I have no idea,” he said on Monday from Long Island, N.Y.

“It’s not true. I’m a U.S. citizen.” Hernandez Hernandez said he filed a failed refugee claim at the Canadian border in 1990 or 1992. He went to the U.S. in 1993 and has since obtained citizenship there.

“This is a witchhunt,” the evangelical pastor said. “I am preaching the gospel…My whole family are pastors.”

CBSA spokesman Luc Nadon said the agency is conducting checks and trying to verify its information.

But, Hernandez Hernandez said he hasn’t been able to eat or sleep since his photo was released on a “CBSA Most Wanted” two weeks ago.

“It’s my face, it’s my name,” Hernandez said. “I look like a criminal.”

He said the Toronto Sun story was reprinted in Spanish-language newspapers, including in his native El Salvador where he served in the army.

He said he was just a soldier and “I was following orders.

“It’s caused me stress,” he said, adding he’s working to clear his name and has been in touch with Canadian authorities to straighten out what he calls a mistake.

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