Bergdahl’s Defense: Fragile Mental Health


Will the insanity plea get him off the hook?

Sgt. Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban after he walked off an Afghanistan base in 2009. He was held captive for five years, sparking a widespread and costly manhunt.  He was released in May 2014 as part of a prisoner exchange involving five Guantanamo Bay detainees.  

Sgt. Bergdahl currently faces a court martial on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy and could be handed a life sentence.  

WASHINGTON, March 17 (UPI) — Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, held captive for five years by the Taliban, had a mental-health disorder marked by odd, eccentric behaviors and social isolation when he walked away from his post in Afghanistan in 2009, documents released by his defense team showed.

Army-Sgt-Bowe-Bergdahl 2

An Army Sanity Board Evaluation in July 2015 found Bergdahl had schizotypal personality disorder, a psychiatric condition marked by unusual fears and beliefs, the inability to form interpersonal relationships and eccentric behaviors. The condition is different from schizophrenia, which is marked by hallucinations and a disconnect from reality.

The board said despite his mental condition when he left his post, “he was able to appreciate the nature and quality and wrongfulness of his conduct.” The board also found Bergdahl has post-traumatic stress disorder.

The psychiatric diagnoses were part of information released on the Bergdahl Docket, a website established by his defense team containing legal documents regarding his case.

Bergdahl, 29, walked away from his post in Afghanistan in June 2009 to hike to another base in an effort to highlight what he considered dangerous leadership problems within his unit. He was captured by the Taliban and held for five years before being freed in a controversial prison swap with Guantanamo Bay detainees. He is facing possible life in prison on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

Bergdahl is the subject of the second season of the popular podcast Serial.


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