FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — The Army sergeant who abandoned his post in Afghanistan and was held captive by the Taliban could face up to life in prison if convicted of both the charges he’s facing.
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was charged with misbehavior before the enemy, which carries a maximum sentence of up to life in prison. He was also charged with desertion, which carries a maximum of five years.
Bergdahl could also face a dishonorable discharge, reduction in rank and forfeiture of all his pay if convicted of both the charges announced Wednesday.
The case now goes to an Article 32 hearing, which is similar to a grand jury. From there, it could be referred to a court-martial and go to trial.
But a military defense lawyer says he doesn’t expect the Army to seek much prison time — because of the years he already spent as a captive of the Taliban. Daniel Conway says the military needs to prosecute the case, though, because a conviction will mean that Bergdahl can’t collect special compensation as a prisoner of war.
Conway says misbehavior before the enemy is a charge that isn’t usually filed. He says it’s usually reserved for shameful or cowardly conduct.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are looking back at the deal that won Bergdahl’s release in exchange for five Taliban members who’d been held at Guantanamo Bay. When asked today if the charges should raise doubts about the wisdom of that trade, Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi said, “I would think that it would raise doubts in the mind of the average American if those doubts weren’t raised already.”