Screenwriter Settles Fight Over Bowe Bergdahl Tapes

Matt Reynolds

LOS ANGELES (CN) — Screenwriter-reporter Mark Boal has settled his legal fight with an Army prosecutor who subpoenaed his audio interviews with Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who is charged with deserting his post in Afghanistan.

Boal sued the United States in Los Angeles Federal Court in July this year after a military prosecutor asked him to hand over 25 hours of unedited interviews with Bergdahl, who faces desertion charges at a military court in Ft. Bragg, N.C.

Extended excerpts from the interview appeared in season two of the popular podcast “Serial,” which took a look at Bergdahl’s story.

With the settlement, the Oscar-winning “Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty” screenwriter and producer is allowed to protect confidential material in the interviews.

Boal agreed to verify that his tapes include Bergdahl’s “authentic voice” and release material that was made public on “Serial.”

“I’m happy that the Army ultimately agreed to uphold the traditions of a free civilian press,” Boal said in a statement after the parties field a joint stipulation to dismiss the case Tuesday.

President Obama announced at a White House ceremony in 2014 that Bergdahl would return home in exchange for Guantanamo Bay detention camp prisoners. The move proved highly controversial after it was revealed that Bergdahl had left his post in eastern Afghanistan before he was captured, almost immediately, by Taliban fighters.

Boal contributed to the podcast by providing producers with his taped interviews with Bergdahl.

Boal claimed in his lawsuit that military prosecutor Maj. Justin Oshana had threatened to subpoena him as the Army makes its case against Bergdahl.

Boal said his unedited recordings cited confidential sources and asked the federal court in Los Angeles to prevent military prosecutors from issuing a subpoena.

“This is a terrific resolution,” Boal’s attorney Jean-Paul Jassy said. “The Army originally demanded 25 hours of Mark Boal’s unedited interviews with Bergdahl that included confidential discussions and all sorts of personal material that wasn’t ever meant to be public. Mark Boal faced down the demand. He is a First Amendment hero.”

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