Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan for five years, will be charged by the Army with desertion, NBC News reports. The charges will reportedly be referred within a week. Nancy A. Youssef reports Bergdahl’s lawyer said he has not heard anything about such charges being filed. Bergdahl reportedly just walked off in the middle of the night, and soldiers from his unit say several died while searching for him. In letters he wrote while imprisoned, Bergdahl claimed that the reason he left was because of poor leadership in his unit. However, the Army on Tuesday denied that a decision has been made to charge Bergdahl for desertion.
One official told NBC News that Bergdahl’s actions go far beyond the lesser offense of AWOL (absent without leave), because he allegedly abandoned his post “in the middle of a combat zone, potentially putting the lives of his fellows soldiers at risk.” However, he will reportedly not be accused of leaving with the intent never to return, and it is likely the five years he spent in captivity will be considered for his sentence if convicted.
The Obama administration agreed to swap five Taliban commanders held at Guantanmo Bay for Bergdahl last year.