Released from Taliban in prisoner exchange, Bowe Bergdahl pleads guilty to desertion


Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl pleaded guilty on Monday to charges of desertion with intention to shirk duty and misbehavior before the enemy stemming from his 2009 disappearance and capture by the Taliban.

His lawyer says the prosecution and defense have not agreed to a stipulation of facts in the case, which is an indication that they did not reach a deal to limit his punishment.

He told the judge that he now understands that what he did caused others to search for him.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl told a military judge he's pleading guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

Bergdahl's punishment will be determined after the judge holds a sentencing hearing, which is expected to start next week. Last year, as a candidate, Donald J. Trump repeatedly called the sergeant a "traitor" and called for him to be executed.

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But he got lost after 20 minutes, was captured by the Taliban several hours later and spent the next five years in captivity.

Bergdahl drew worldwide headlines after he left his Army outpost in Afghanistan over eight years ago. The judge ruled in February that the new president's comments were "disturbing and disappointing" but did not constitute unlawful command influence by the soon-to-be commander in chief. Defense attorneys have acknowledged that Bergdahl walked off his base without authorization.

In interviews with the podcast "Serial" in December 2015, Bergdahl explained that his lack of confidence in leadership at Combat Outpost Mest-Malak in Paktika Province, Afghanistan prompted his decision to embark on an 18-mile hike to a nearby base to report his concerns.

Former US president Barack Obama brought him home in 2014 in a swap for five Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, saying the US does not leave its service members on the battlefield. Facing Republican criticism, Obama noted that the US doesn't leave its service members behind.