In June 2009, Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl vanished from his post in Afghanistan, ultimately falling into the hands of the Taliban, who imprisoned and tortured him for five years straight. Now, Bergdahl is expected to plead guilty to charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, after years of speculation surrounding the circumstances of his disappearance, the Associated Press reports.
According to New York Magazine, Bergdahl said he left his post after five months in the country because he was fed up with his superiors and wanted to call attention to the way his unit was being run. He planned to camp out at a nearby base, but was captured soon after he ditched his post. Six soldiers died searching for Bergdahl, and the US eventually had to trade five Taliban prisoners for his release in 2014.
The murky story of Bergdahl’s capture and years-long imprisonment sparked debate back in the US, with some defending him as a hero who’d just fallen into the wrong hands, and others who think he could have been cooperating with the Taliban. His story became the focal point of Serial‘s second season, and host Sarah Koenig waded knee deep in Bergdahl’s disappearance, brutal time in captivity, and the controversy that still surrounds him. The news that Bergdahl is set to plead guilty in his case offers some closure to a season left largely open-ended.
Bergdahl’s sentencing is set to begin October 23, where a judge will hear from US troops who were wounded while searching for the missing soldier, among others. According to the AP, opting for a guilty plea could cut down the number of years in Bergdahl’s sentence. His desertion charge carries a maximum sentence of five years, and misbehaving before the enemy could land him with life behind bars.
Follow Drew Schwartz on Twitter.