Authorities say a soldier who fled to Canada from an Army post in Georgia to avoid the Iraq war has been charged with desertion.

A Fort Stewart spokesman said Thursday that Spc. Cliff Cornell, 29, will face an investigation to determine whether his case should be handled as an administrative matter or a court-martial.

Cornell's lawyer, James Branum, says he will press for leniency. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Authorities say the soldier abandoned his Army unit at Fort Stewart in 2005 and went to British Columbia.

Cornell returned to the Army two weeks ago after the Canadian government denied him asylum as a war objector. He turned himself in Feb. 10 at Fort Stewart.