Army refutes reports it has decided to charge Bowe Bergdahl with desertion
As speculation builds that desertion charges are looming against the US military’s longest-held prisoner of war since 9/11, the US army is insisting it has made no decisions on the fate of a soldier freed last year from Taliban captivity.
Despite several reports that Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl would face desertion charges – the subject of persistent speculation since the controversial 2014 prisoner swap that set five Taliban members free from detention at Guantánamo Bay – the Army said on Tuesday that “there have been no actions or decisions” emerging from its investigation.
“The investigation is still with the Commanding General of US Army Forces Command who will determine appropriate action – which ranges from no further action to convening a court martial,” Major General Ronald F Lewis said in a statement. Lewis called stories from Fox and NBC about imminent desertion charges for Bergdahl “patently false”.
Curiosity about Bergdahl has swirled since the Taliban captured the Idaho native in 2009. Bergdahl reportedly walked off a base in eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border, before his apprehension, fueling rumors of desertion.
An intercepted Taliban radio communication, released by the transparency group WikiLeaks, stated in June 2009 that Bergdahl was found with “ no gun ” and seized while defecating off the base.
Almost immediately after the Obama administration consented to trade five senior Taliban detainees for Bergdahl in May 2014, the Army opened an inquiry into the circumstances behind Bergdahl’s captivity. Since an extensive debriefing and “reintegration” process ended in July, Bergdahl has been assigned to Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in Texas, awaiting the results of the Army’s investigation.
Military officials insisted on Tuesday that they do not have a timetable for making a decision on Bergdahl, though CNN reported one could arrive imminently . While desertion is most often a capital offense, few observers expect the Army will seek to put Bergdahl to death, even if he is charged with the offense.
“We understand the public interest in this case and once a decision has been made, the Army will be open and transparent in this matter,” Lewis said in his Tuesday statement.
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