U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl pleaded guilty Monday to charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Bergdahl disappeared when he walked off his base in June 2009. He was captured and held by the Taliban until May 2014.
Bergdahl’s maximum possible punishment would be life in prison, according to the judge assigned to the case, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance. Sentencing is expected to occur at the Fort Bragg Army base in North Carolina on Oct. 23, The Washington Post reported.
“I left my observation post on my own,” Bergdahl told Nance Monday. “I understand leaving was against the law.” Bergdahl said he left his outpost in an attempt to reach the base from which he had been dispatched, to report “a critical problem in my chain of command.” The sergeant did not indicate what the problem was.
Within hours of his deserting his outpost in 2009, Bergdahl was captured by Taliban members. During the five years he was in captivity, he was subjected to torture including being chained to a bed and locked in a cage on all fours. He also reported having been beaten with a copper wire or a thick rubber hose. He said he tried to escape 12 times.
Some service members who searched for Bergdahl after his disappearance suffered serious wounds. At the upcoming Oct. 23 hearing, testimony may be given by those who were injured during the search.
Bergdahl, now 31, was rescued in 2014 when the United States recovered him in a prisoner swap that proved to be controversial. President Obama agreed to swap five Taliban prisoners for Bergdahl. Those prisoners, who had been detained in Guantanamo Bay, were sent to Qatar as part of the deal.
Bergdahl currently remains on active duty with a clerical job at a U.S. Army base in San Antonio.