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Fmr. US soldier Bowe Bergdahl’s desertion conviction overturned

Bowe Bergdahl (U.S. Army/Released)
July 28, 2023

The military conviction of former U.S. Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl was vacated by a federal judge on Tuesday.

According to The Associated Press, Bergdahl previously pleaded guilty to charges of desertion for leaving his post in Afghanistan in 2009.

Tuesday’s ruling from U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton claimed that the military judge who had presided over Bergdahl’s court-martial, Jeffrey Nance, had not disclosed his application for an immigration judge position with the executive branch at the time of the court-martial, which Walton noted was a potential conflict of interest.

After leaving his post in 2009, the former soldier was captured by the Taliban and tortured for almost five years. According to court documents obtained by The Associated Press, the Taliban used rifle butts, copper wires, and rubber hoses to beat Bergdahl during his imprisonment. Following multiple attempts to escape, Bergdahl was eventually locked in a small cage by the Taliban for four years.

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Multiple U.S. military members were injured in a search attempt for Bergdahl, according to The Associated Press. Bergdahl was eventually sent back to the U.S. as part of a prisoner exchange that involved the return of five Taliban leaders who had been imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. 

Bergdahl pleaded guilty in 2017 after he was charged for misbehavior and desertion. The former U.S. soldier claimed that he was captured by the Taliban after leaving his post in order to report what he described as a lack of leadership in his military unit.

During Bergdahl’s court-martial, prosecutors requested that he receive a 14-year prison sentence; however, Bergdahl was not sentenced to any time in prison as a result of evidence of his torture at the hands of the Taliban. Nevertheless, Bergdahl was dishonorably discharged from the U.S. military and was forced to forfeit $10,000 of pay.

Prior to Tuesday’s court reversal, Bergdahl’s conviction had been upheld by military appeals courts.

This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.