He’s accused of folding up his uniform, and of abandoning his post and his platoon. His capture caused controversy when the Obama administration gave up five terrorist leaders for his return.
He’s even become the star of a popular podcast.
Now, finally, U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who disappeared in Afghanistan in 2009 and was held by the Taliban for five years, is scheduled to appear Tuesday before a military judge on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
The arraignment will be held at Fort Bragg, in North Carolina. If convicted at a general court-martial, Bergdahl could get life in prison on the misbehavior charge and up to five years for desertion.
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 in Guantanamo Bay. The move touched off a firestorm of criticism, with some in Congress accusing President Barack Obama of illegal actions and of jeopardizing the safety of a nation 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.
Bergdahl attorney Eugene Fidell has said the Army did not follow the advice of a preliminary hearing officer in choosing to pursue a general court-martial. Instead, Lt. Col. Mark Visger had recommended that Bergdahl’s case be referred to a special court-martial, which is a misdemeanor-level forum.
The charges against Bergdahl had been announced by the Army in March, before Visger reviewed the evidence as part of an Article 32 proceeding, which is similar to a grand jury.
The Associated Press contributed to this article