Bowe Bergdahl, US Soldier Held by Taliban, Charged With Desertion
Exchanged for five US-held prisoners after five years in captivity, Bergdahl faces 'misbehavior before the enemy' charges and possible jail time
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier who was released from Taliban captivity in a prisoner swap last year has been charged with desertion, the U.S. military announced during a short press conference at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on Wednesday.
Bergdahl, who went disappeared from his Army outpost in Afghanistan in 2009 and later ended up in the Taliban custory, faces charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy under Articles 85 and 99 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, his lawyer, Eugene Fidell, told the Washington Post on Wednesday.
However, as an unnamed Defense Department official told the New York Times, the charges do not necessarily mean that Bergdahl will be tried or face jail time.
"Just being charged with desertion doesn’t mean he’s going to go to court-martial, there are a lot of more steps in the process," the official said.
Bergdahl disappeared on June 30, 2009. Some questioned whether he had become disillusioned with the ongoing war and the U.S. military's occupation of Afghanistan. In a move that President Obama's critics have used against him, the White House held secret negotiations and then traded Bergdahl for five Taliban soldiers, held at the infamous offshore prison at Guantanamo Bay, in May of last year.
Military officials had several options on how to address Bergdahl's case, including dismissing him of all wrongdoing or charging him with being absent without leave (AWOL). Desertion was the most serious charge he faced.