No prison time for USA soldier Bergdahl in desertion case

Judge rules no jail time for Bergdahl

After facing life in prison, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is a free man after Judge Col. Jeffery R. Nance ruled Friday he will not face hard time for abandoning his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan and walking off his post eight years ago.

Following the judge's decision, President Donald Trump, who had been vocal about his disgust towards Bergdahl during his 2016 presidential campaign, tweeted, "The decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military".

Bergdahl's lawyers tried several times to have the charges against him thrown out, saying comments by Trump and Senator John McCain in favor of a heavy prison sentence constituted "unlawful command influence" - when senior officials with power over the military exert potentially prejudicial influence over the court.

Bergdahl previously pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy and faced a potential life sentence in prison.

Bergdahl admitted his guilt without assurances from the prosecution about his sentencing, hoping for leniency before the judge.

Sgt Bergdahl was held captive by the Taliban for five years after he left his Afghan post in 2009, sparking a massive manhunt in the region.

Bergdahl, now 31, was captured by the Taliban and spent almost five years under brutal captivity by the insurgent group. The dishonorable discharge means he won't be eligible for VA healthcare or other veterans benefits.

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Bergdahl "is grateful to everyone who searched for him in 2009, especially those who heroically sustained injuries", Fidell added.

Soldiers, relatives of soldiers, experts, a psychiatrist, and Bergdahl himself testified during the sentencing hearing.

Prosecutors, who had sought 14 years of confinement, did not comment. Bergdahl was subsequently captured by the Taliban and spent five years in brutal captivity.

Deserting his post was consistent with Bergdahl's personality disorder, said Dr. Charles Morgan. Political leaders in Washington and fellow soldiers were critical of the unsafe efforts to find him and the 2014 Taliban prisoner swap that secured his release.

At the time of Bergdahl's release, Obama said the USA does not leave its service members on the battlefield.

Trump has never been a fan of Bergdahl - in March 2017, he called Bergdahl a "dirty, rotten traitor".

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