الإثنين , يونيو 8 2020

Bergdahl on the way back to US

Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, sits in a vehicle guarded by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan. Bergdahl was freed by the Taliban on 31 May 2014The Army has left open the possibility Bergdahl could be prosecuted for leaving his post without authorisation

The US soldier held captive for five years by the Taliban is on his way back to the US, an official has said.

Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, 28, left Germany for a military medical centre in Texas, for the next part of what the military calls a “reintegration mission”.

Officials previously said he would be reunited with his family there.

Sgt Bergdahl was freed on 31 May in exchange for five Taliban commanders held at Guantanamo bay, a deal criticised by the Republicans.

The US soldier departed Ramstein Air Base earlier on Thursday aboard a US military aircraft and is expected to arrive in San Antonio on Friday morning, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm John Kirby said in a statement.

“Our first priority is making sure that Sgt Bergdahl continues to get the care and support he needs.”

He had been recuperating at a military hospital in Germany since his release.

Death threats

Critics of the prisoner swap, which include some Democrats, have objected to the fact Congress was not given notice of the deal, and they say the detainees are too dangerous to free.

Shortly after his release, several commentators and soldiers came forward to brand him a deserter and call for him to be punished.

The Pentagon has concluded he left his post in Paktika Province without authorisation but it is unclear if he intended to desert from the Army. The Army has said it will investigate the circumstances of his capture, leaving open the possibility he could be prosecuted for misconduct.

His family has received death threats and a welcoming party in his hometown in the state of Idaho was cancelled amid safety concerns.

Sgt Bergdahl has not made any public comment since his release, but on Thursday, the Daily Beast website published a letter it said was one of two Sgt Bergdahl sent to his parents during his captivity through the International Red Cross.

In the letter, which the BBC has not verified, he says he left because conditions were deteriorating at the base.

Excerpts of his journals sent to a friend before he went missing, published by the Washington Post, suggest a young soldier struggling to handle the mental stress of war.

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