Trump calls Bowe Bergdahl verdict 'a complete and total disgrace'

Sgt Bergdahl was dishonourably discharged

Clark Mindock
New York
Friday 03 November 2017 18:11 GMT
Bowe Bergdahl: 1,797 days as a PoW
Bowe Bergdahl: 1,797 days as a PoW

President Donald Trump says that the decision not to send Bowe Bergdahl to prison is a "complete and total disgrace".

"The decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military," Mr Trump tweeted while on Air Force One, reacting to the news that a military judge had let Bergdahl walk free after deserting his post in Afghanistan.

Sgt Bergdahl pleaded guilty to charges of desertion and misbehaviour last month, saying that Mr Trump's past comments on his case had made it impossible for him to receive a fair trial.

Those comments first started last year during Mr Trump's election campaign, in which he called Sgt Bergdahl a "no-good traitor who should have been executied."

More recently, Mr Trump has tweeted about Sgt Bergdahl's case, saying that he would have liked to see the former soldier given the death penalty. Legal experts said that calling so publicly for that penalty made it very unlikely that Sgt Bergdahl would face such a sentence.

The military judge who decided Sgt Bergdahl's case said that he had not been influenced by the President's statements on the case in making his decision to let him walk free.

Sgt Bergdahl left his post in Afghanistan in 2009, and endured five years of imprisonment with the Taliban. During that time, he says he was repeatedly tortured in a variety of ways, including being chained to a bed for months, and being locked into metal cages. The massive military search for Sgt Bergdahl resulted in six American soldier deaths, and many in the rescue operation went without food and water for long periods of time during the search.

He was finally let go in 2014, after the administration of President Barack Obama negotiated his controversial release in exchange for five Taliban prisoners being held by the US military.

During the trial, Sgt Bergdahl's defence urged the judge to be lenient, saying that their client had grown up in a stressful environment, and suffered from mental illness before joining the Army.

Lawyers representing the military brought in several soldiers who had participated in the search, including one who had been shot in the effort. Those soldiers described an incredibly difficult and taxing search operation in which many members of the military put themselves in danger for Sgt Bergdahl.

Sgt Bergdahl was dishonourably discharged for desertion.

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