Official: US military to charge Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl with desertion

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. U.S. officials say the only American soldier held prisoner in Afghanistan, has been freed and is in U.S. custody. (AP Photo/U.S. Army)

WASHINGTON (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.

Bergdahl walked away from his post in Afghanistan and was captured, then released from Taliban capture in a prisoner exchange.

Gen. Mark Milley, head of U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, has been reviewing the massive case files and had a broad range of legal options, including various degrees of desertion charges.

A major consideration was whether military officials would be able to prove that Bergdahl had no intention of returning to his unit — a key element in the more serious desertion charges.

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Associated Press Writer Donna Cassata contributed to this report.

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