Bergdahl Court-Martial Postponed to February

     (CN) — Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s trial on charges that could land him in a military prison for life has been delayed until February 2017 to allow defense attorneys time to sort through thousands of pages of classified documents.
Bergdahl was originally scheduled to be tried in August. His new court date, Feb. 6, 2017, was set Tuesday at a 35-minute hearing at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Army officials said in a statement.
     The pre-trial hearing that took up scheduling and legal motions marked Bergdahl’s second courtroom appearance since learning that he will face court-martial on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
     Bergdahl, 30, was immediately captured and spent five years as a Taliban prisoner after walking away from his combat outpost in Afghanistan in 2009. His release came only after the White House agreed to swap five Taliban detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay.
     The new trial date means that the country will have sworn-in a new commander-in-chief just weeks prior.
     Bergdahl’s story has deeply divided the American public. The soldier has been depicted as a traitor, and his May 2014 return to the United States was overshadowed by backlash at the prisoner exchange.
     The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, billionaire real estate developer Donald Trump, has denounced Bergdahl as a “dirty, rotten traitor” while campaigning in New Hampshire in August.
     Bergdahl’s attorney Eugene Fidell, who has taught military justice at Yale Law School, has slammed the comments as “the lowest kind of demagoguery.”
     Army prosecutors were recently ordered to cough up thousands of pages of secret documents after a military appeals court agreed that Bergdahl’s legal team should be granted access to the documents to aid in building up the soldier’s defense.
     The embattled sergeant, of Hailey, Idaho, has said that he left his platoon’s base to begin a 20-mile run, hoping that his absence would trigger enough attention to allow him to air his grievances with a general.
     He told filmmaker Mark Boal that he quickly found himself tangled in the hills before six to seven men in motorcycles carrying high-powered weapons snatched him away less than 24 hours after he walked into the enemy-infested desert.
Bergdahl remains on active-duty at a military base in San Antonio assigned to a desk job.
     His next motions hearing is scheduled for July 7-8 at Fort Bragg.

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