Bowe Bergdahl expected to plead guilty to deserting his post

By Kathleen Joyce

Published October 06, 2017

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 AP did not name the sources.

Bergdahl's lawyer declined to comment when contacted by Fox News. He faces up to five years in prison on the desertion charge and a life sentence for misbehavior. 

Bergdahl, 31, 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 saying he was "scared" he would not be able to go home. 

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) - GM1E57K09PB01

The Taliban released videos of Bowe Bergdahl being held hostage.  (Reuters)

Bergdahl said he had been caged, kept in the darkness, beaten and chained to a bed when he was kept captive.

The Army sergeant 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 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.

U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is pictured in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Army and received by Reuters on May 31, 2014. Bergdahl, who had been held for nearly five years by Afghan militants, was handed over to U.S. Special Operations forces in Afghanistan on May 31, 2014 in a dramatic swap for five Taliban detainees who will be handed over from Guantanamo Bay prison to Qatar. REUTERS/U.S. Army/Handout via Reuters (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - GM1EA610EVJ01

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was released after the Obama administration exchanged five Guantanamo Bay detainees for the soldier.  (Reuters)

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 exchange also fueled a debate about whether Bergdahl was a hero or a deserter.

President Barack Obama stood with Bergdahl’s parents in the White House Rose Garden and defended the swap. 

The U.S. does not "leave our men or women in uniform behind," Obama said then, regardless of how Bergdahl came to be captured. 

A billboard calling for the release of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, held for nearly five years by the Taliban after being captured in Afghanistan, is shown in this picture taken near Spokane, Washington on February 25, 2014. Bergdahl has been released and is now in U.S. custody, President Barack Obama said on May 31, 2014. Picture taken on February 25, 2014.  REUTERS/Jeff T. Green (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - TM4EA4O17Y801

There has been much debate surrounding the exchange of prisoners for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release.  (Reuters)

"Whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he's held in captivity," Obama said. "Period. Full stop."

Many viewers noticed Bergdahl’s father, Bob, and his long beard as he stood next to Obama. The Washington Post reported Bob Bergdahl read books and articles about the “foreign world that held his son.” He also learned how to speak Pashto, the official language of Afghanistan. He told Time he started growing the beard after learning that his son had been captured. 

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) watches as Jami Bergdahl (L) and Bob Bergdahl talk about the release of their son, prisoner of war U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, during a statement in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington May 31, 2014. Obama, flanked by the parents of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier who is being released after being held for nearly five years by the Taliban, said in the White House Rose Garden on Saturday that the United States has an "ironclad commitment" to bring home its prisoners of war. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY) - GM1EA610J6201

Many viewers noticed Bergdahl’s father, Bob, and his long beard as he stood next to the president.  (Reuters)

In March 2015, he was formally charged. In December, Bergdahl requested a pardon from then-President Obama before he left office, Fox News reported. The pardon was not granted.

Some of Bergdahl's fellow soldiers want him held responsible for any harm suffered by those who went looking for him. The judge ruled a Navy SEAL and an Army National Guard sergeant wouldn't have found themselves in separate firefights if they hadn't been searching.

The U.S. troops who were seriously wounded during their search for Bergdahl in Afghanistan were expected to testify, the sources stated.

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."

Fox News' Brooke Singman, Kaitlyn Schallhorn and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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