Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl formally pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy Monday.
Bergdahl, a 31-year-old soldier who left his post in Afghanistan in 2009 only to be captured by the Taliban and held for five years until 2014, now faces a sentence of up to life in prison, The New York Times reports.
While the initial charge of desertion carries a sentence of up to five years, the charge of misbehavior before the enemy is much more serious and could result in Bergdahl heading to prison for life. Misbehavior before the enemy has rarely been used since World War II.
Bergdahl’s initial excuse for leaving base was that he wanted to walk 18 miles to another U.S. base to report problems with his unit.
However, what both parties can agree on is that the Taliban subsequently captured him and held him until 2014, at which point the Obama administration swapped five Taliban prisoners in Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl’s release.
“I left my observation post on my own,” Bergdahl said Monday. “I understand leaving was against the law.”
An Army Sanity Board Evaluation determined in 2015 that Bergdahl suffers from schizotypal personality disorder.
President Donald Trump repeatedly said during his presidential campaign that Bergdahl was a traitor, and claimed he should have been shot.
“We’re tired of Sgt. Bergdahl, who’s a traitor, a no-good traitor, who should have been executed,” Trump said at an October 2015 campaign rally. “Thirty years ago, he would have been shot.”
The sentencing hearing is set for later in October.
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