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Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Is Charged With Desertion

March 25, 2015

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will face desertion charges, his lawyer tells NPR’s David Welna.

Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban in 2009, after he walked off his military outpost in southeastern Afghanistan. In a controversial move and five years after his capture, the Obama administration cut a deal with the Taliban, securing Bergdahl’s release in exchange for the release of five Taliban detainees who were being held at the Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba.

In December, the Pentagon referred Bergdahl’s case to an Army general, who would determine whether he should be charged.

Bergdahl’s lawyer, Eugene Fidell, said he would be charged with “desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.”

There will be an Article 32 hearing on April 22 at Fort Sam Houston.

The deal for his return was controversial politically, because the circumstances surrounding his disappearance have always been murky.

As we’ve reported: Some accounts had him captured during an attack on his post, others put him walking off his outpost during a counterinsurgency mission. An account in Rolling Stone implied that Bergdahl was “ashamed to even be American” and was defecting when he was captured.

The deal for his return was also controversial, because the Government Accountability Office also found that the Pentagon broke the law.

As we reported, first it found that the “Pentagon violated the Department of Defense Appropriations Act when it didn’t give 30 days’ notice to Congress about its plan to move the five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay.” And secondly, the $1 million used for the transfer “was paid for out of an account of already-appropriated funds – a violation of the Antideficiency Act.”

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