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Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Ex-Taliban Captive Bowe Bergdahl Could Face Life

(CN) - Nearly a year since he was freed from Taliban captivity, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl faces the possibility of life in a military prison for charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, the U.S. Army revealed on Wednesday.

Both charges carry the possibility of a dishonorable discharge, demotion, forfeiture and imprisonment. The misbehavior count could lead to life imprisonment, and desertion has a maximum term of five years.

Bergdahl, the last U.S. prisoner of war in Afghanistan, fell into Taliban hands shortly after leaving his combat outpost in the Paktika province on June 30, 2009.

On May 31, 2014, the Pentagon announced that it had freed the 28-year-old by trading him for five Taliban members being held indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay.

None of the detainees swapped for Bergdahl had been charged with a war crime.

A month later the Pentagon raised some eyebrows in announcing that it had tapped Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl to lead the probe investigating the circumstances behind Bergdahl's disappearance.

Eugene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School, told Courthouse News at the time that the appointment of a two-star general for a seemingly uncomplicated case struck him as "overkill" that reflected "politically charged atmosphere in which this case finds itself."

Fidell has now signed up as Bergdahl's lawyer, The New York Times reported.

Citing due-process concerns, the Army declined to release the results of last year's investigation.

Bergdahl faces an Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury, in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Army said.

The sergeant's family and attorney did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

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