Army Deserter Bowe Bergdahl to plead guilty instead of facing trial

U.S. Army Private Bowe Bergdahl watches as one of his captors displays his identity tag to the camera at an unknown location in Afghanistan, July 19, 2009. The U.S. military denounced on Sunday the release of the video showing a soldier captured in Afghanistan, describing the images as Taliban propaganda that violated international law. REUTERS/via Reuters TV (AFGHANISTAN MILITARY CONFLICT IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR25U17

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is expected to plead guilty later this month to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy rather than face trial for leaving his Afghanistan post in 2009, The Associated Press reported.

Two sources said the Idaho native would submit the plea later this month and sentencing would start Oct. 23. The Associated Press did not name the two individuals.

Bergdahl, 31, could face up to five years in prison on the desertion charge and a life sentence for misbehavior.

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Bergdahl, who was serving with an Alaska-based infantry regiment, deserted his Afghanistan post in 2009 when he was 23-years-old and was held captive by the Taliban for about five years. The Taliban posted a video online showing Bergdahl stating he was “scared” he would not be able to come home.

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Bergdahl claimed he was lagging behind a patrol when he was captured. He also said he left his post to alert people about problems he perceived within his unit. Investigators said Bergdahl suffered from schizotypal personality disorder at the time when he left his post.

In December 2009, the Taliban released another video showing Bergdahl apparently healthy and delivering a lengthy statement criticizing the U.S. military operation.

He was released in May 2014 for five Taliban detainees locked in Guantanamo Bay by the Obama administration. The exchanged was viewed as controversial at the time due to the debate about negotiating with hostage takers.

The U.S. does not “leave our men or women in uniform behind,” Obama said then, regardless of how Bergdahl came to be captured. There has been much debate surrounding the exchange of prisoners for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release.

Next month, the Army said it was investigating the facts and circumstances around Bergdahl’s disappearance. In March 2015, he was charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

In December, Bergdahl requested a pardon from then-President Obama before he left office, Fox News reported. He was not granted the pardon.

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump called Bergdahl a “dirty, rotten traitor” during a town hall in August 2015. Trump also tweeted in 2015 that Bergdahl should “face the death penalty.”

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