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Trump slams Bergdahl decision: 'Complete and total disgrace'

04 November 2017

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will serve no prison time for endangering fellow soldiers when he walked off his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was captured by the Taliban.

US President Donald Trump condemned the military judge's decision on Twitter, calling it a "complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military".

Army Col. Judge Jeffery R. Nance said Bergdahl will be dishonorably discharged and have his rank reduced to private.

The sergeant already has a job offer from an animal sanctuary, and a military official who helps design survival training said he would like to use Bergdahl as a part of lectures to service members on how to survive captivity.

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The soldier had been facing up to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehaviour before the enemy. The judge had wide leeway in deciding the sentence because Bergdahl made no deal with prosecutors to limit his punishment.

Bergdahl's actions in Afghanistan drew withering criticism from political leaders in Washington and fellow soldiers, both for the risky efforts to find him and the Taliban prisoner swap brokered by the Democratic Obama administration that secured his release. Bergdahl was nervous, clenching both hands as he left the court with his lawyers.

Bergdahl "is grateful to everyone who searched for him in 2009, especially those who heroically sustained injuries", Fidell added. He was held captive by Taliban allies for five years.

A dishonourable discharge, given for the most serious offences, typically means a loss of all veteran and military benefits, including healthcare from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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

Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of 14 years of in prison. For years, he was tortured by the terrorist organization, and he was eventually let go after President Barack Obama negotiated his release in exchange for Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

But Captain Nina Banks, for the defence, said that when he deserted Bergdahl had not yet been diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder, which includes grandiose thinking. Mr Obama said at the time the U.S. does not leave its service members on the battlefield.

As a presidential candidate, Trump called for Bergdahl to face stiff punishment.

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Trump slams Bergdahl decision: 'Complete and total disgrace'