Bowe Bergdahl arraigned on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy
U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who disappeared in Afghanistan in 2009 and was held by the Taliban for five years, appeared Tuesday before a military judge on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
Bergdahl was arraigned during a short hearing. He deferred entering a plea and did not decide whether he wants to face a court-martial with a jury or one with just a judge. He said little beyond answering “yes” and “no” to questions about whether he understood his rights and the court proceedings. He wore an Army dress uniform with a dark blue jacket and pants and had closely cropped hair.
If convicted at a general court-martial, Bergdahl could get life in prison on the misbehavior charge and up to five years for desertion.
The judge in the case, Col. Christopher Fredrikson, scheduled a Jan. 12 pretrial hearing to discuss motions.
Bergdahl, 29, of Hailey, Idaho, walked off his post in eastern Afghanistan’s Paktika province on June 30, 2009. He was released in late May 2014 as part of a prisoner swap, in exchange for five detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The move touched off a firestorm of criticism, with some in Congress accusing President Obama of jeopardizing the safety of the country with the exchange.
Bergdahl’s disappearance and the possibility that he might face light punishment had angered many in the military, who say his fellow soldiers took considerable risks to search for him. The Army announced this month that he would face the more serious general court-martial.
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