A judge has ruled that former Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier who pleaded guilty to desertion, will not face prison time for his actions, The Associated Press reports.
Bergdahl is accused of abandoning his post in Afghanistan in 2009, a move that put the lives of his fellow soldiers in danger. He was captured by the Taliban shortly after his abandonment and held captive for five years. He pleaded guilty to desertion in October amid years of speculation. He faced a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Under the direction of former President Obama, Bergdahl was released from Taliban custody in 2014. Obama praised the efforts of the soldiers and diplomats who assisted in the search and exchange while standing next to Bergdahl’s parents at a press conference. He said, “As President, I know that I speak for all Americans when I say we cannot wait for the moment when you are reunited and your son, Bowe, is back in your arms.” He also defended his administration’s decision amid criticisms, saying the United States has a “pretty sacred rule and that is we don’t leave our men or women in uniform behind and that dates back to the earliest days.” Despite this, there were many who believed that the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s initial were too controversial to ignore.
President Trump was among those who criticized the decision. Trump called Bergdahl a “traitor” during a January interview with Chuck Todd of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” still president-elect at the time. Bergdahl’s lawyers argued in February that their client could not receive a fair trial and that his constitutional right to due process was violated because of the January statement and nearly 40 others made prior, including a comment he made on the campaign trail calling for Bergdahl to be “executed.”
Family and friends who remembered the men who died as a result of search efforts or Bergdahl’s desertion were also among those displeased with the tone surrounding the release. Several others were also injured as a result. The six men who died are identified below:
Staff Sergeant Clayton Bowen, 29, of San Antonio, Texas
Private 1st Class Morris Walker, 23, of Chapel Hill, N.C.
Staff Sergeant Kurt Curtiss, 27, of Murray, Utah
2nd Lieutenant Darryn Andrews, 34, of Dallas, Texas
Staff Sergeant Michael Murphrey, 25, of Snyder, Texas
Private 1st Class Matthew Martinek, 20, of DeKalb, Ill.
“I would like everyone who searched for me to know it was never my intention for anyone to be hurt, and I never expected that to happen,” Bergdahl said during his sentencing hearing on Monday at Fort Bragg, N.C. “My words alone can’t take away their pain.”
Despite the sentence, which many have criticized as lenient, Bergdahl will be dishonorably discharged from the United States Army.
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