Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is predicted to soon plead guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy in a case that has dragged on for years.
Bergdahl, a 31-year-old from Idaho that was held by the Taliban for five years after leaving his post in Afghanistan, is allegedly preparing to plead guilty to two charges rather than face a trial, the Associated Press reports.
Bergdahl’s explanation for leaving his post is that he wanted to draw attention to problems in his unit. The Taliban quickly captured him and subjected him to brutal beatings.
He was returned to the U.S. after the Obama administration swapped five Taliban detainees locked up in Guantanamo Bay. At the time, President Barack Obama said that the swap was a fulfillment of the promise not to leave anyone in uniform behind.
Those charges carry maximum penalties of life in prison, and though the maximum punishment of misbehavior before the enemy is death, it seems unlikely the Army will pursue that end. Misbehavior before the enemy is a charge rarely applied. The last time it saw frequent use was during World War II.
President Donald Trump referred to Bergdahl as a “no-good traitor” in an October 2015 campaign rally.
“We’re tired of Sgt. Bergdahl, who’s a traitor, a no-good traitor, who should have been executed,” Trump said. “Thirty years ago, he would have been shot.”
Bergdahl’s lawyers attempted to argue that Trump’s long crusade of heated criticism would prevent Bergdahl from receiving a fair trial, though the judge, Army Col. Jeffery Nance, refused to toss out the case in February, as Trump’s comments didn’t amount to unlawful command influence.
Bergdahl’s sentencing will begin Oct. 23, individuals with knowledge of the situation told the Associated Press.
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