United States soldier Bowe Bergdahl pleads guilty to desertion

Pauline Gross
October 17, 2017

Sgt Bergdahl, 31, pleaded guilty at a military court-martial to desertion and misbehaviour before the enemy in June 2009, telling a military judge: "I left my observation post on my own".

His lawyer said the prosecution and defence have not agreed to a stipulation of facts in the case, which is an indication that they did not reach a deal to limit his punishment. Bergdahl, who spent five years as a Taliban prisoner after walking away from his combat outpost in Afghanistan in 2009, did not enter a plea on Tuesday at his arraignment on charges spurred by his disappearance.

He told the judge at Fort Bragg, North Carolina that he now understands that what he did caused others to search for him. The desertion charge carries a maximum five year sentence while the misbehavior charge-which is based on endangering other soldiers-has a potential life sentence. However, what both parties can agree on is that the Taliban subsequently captured him and held him until 2014, at which point the Obama administration swapped five Taliban prisoners in Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl's release.

Six soldiers died hunting for Bergdahl in Afghanistan after he disappeared. Bergdahl's five years of captivity by the Taliban and its allies also will likely factor into what punishment he receives.

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"He's a traitor, a no-good traitor who should have been executed", Trump said. Bergdahl, who's from Hailey, Idaho, previously chose to have his case heard by a judge alone, rather than a jury.

"You know, it's just insulting frankly", Bergdahl told the interviewer.

Trump had also called during his run for president for Bergdahl to be put to death for desertion.

In a serial podcast on his case two years ago broadcast by National Public Radio, Bergdahl said that he "left his post to try to stir controversy in order to get the attention of top military officials so he could explain problems he saw in the Army". The judge ruled in February that the new president's comments were "disturbing and disappointing" but did not constitute unlawful command influence by the soon-to-be commander in chief.

Other reports by GizPress

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