Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is expected to plead guilty Monday to charges that he endangered comrades by abandoning his post in Afghanistan in 2009. The court case will finally be settled, three years after former President Barack Obama, along with Bergdahl’s parents, announced the soldier’s release from captivity.
In May 2014, Bergdahl was freed in exchange for the U.S.’s release of five Taliban terrorists. At the time of these events, Obama administration officials said Bergdahl “served with honor and distinction.” Guilty pleas will end the eight-year ordeal which began when Bergdahl’s disappearance in Afghanistan set off search missions by his fellow service members.
Bergdahl, 31, requested to enter his plea before the military judge at Fort Bragg, according to U.S. Army officials. The Associated Press previously reported that his guilty charges will be for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
It’s been speculated that Bergdahl made a deal with prosecutors to limit his punishment, or that his pleading guilty will result in leniency from the judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance. The misbehavior charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, while the desertion charge is punishable by up to five years. Serious wounds to service members who searched for Bergdahl are expected to play a role in his sentencing.
Bergdahl’s five years of captivity by the Taliban and its allies will also likely affect the punishment he receives.
President Barack Obama was criticized by Republicans for the 2014 Taliban prisoner swap that brought Bergdahl home. President Donald Trump also criticized Bergdahl on the 2016 campaign trail.
Bergdahl has been working desk duty at a Texas Army base during the processing of his case. His sentence hearing will be on October 23.
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