News / USA

    US Tries to Shield Bergdahl from Spotlight

    FILE - Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in an undated image provided by the U.S. Army.
    FILE - Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in an undated image provided by the U.S. Army.
    The U.S. military is trying to minimize information leaking out on the recovery of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, even as details of his captivity at the hands of the Taliban are going public. It is part of an ongoing effort to shield Bergdahl from media spotlight.
    Bowe Bergdahl
     
    • U.S. Army sergeant, was ranked private at time of his capture
    • Disappeared from army base in Paktika province, Afghanistan in June 2009
    • Taliban initially demanded $1 million and release of 21 Afghan prisoners for his release
    • Freed by Taliban on May 31, 2014 in exchange for five prisoners held by U.S. at Guantanamo Bay
    • Born March 28, 1986 in Sun Valley, Idaho


    It has now been more than a week since Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was handed over to U.S. Special Forces and taken out of Afghanistan.

    But Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren says Bergdahl, who is recovering at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, has yet to have the long-awaited phone call with his parents.

    “This decision to speak with the family is a decision the returnee has to make when he or she is emotionally in the right place to make this phone call,” he said.

    Media reports say the 28-year-old Bergdahl has started to open up to the team directing his care, telling of being caged after trying to escape and of other harsh treatment.

    And while he has been treated for skin and gum ailments, Pentagon officials say Bergdahl is in stable condition, improving every day, though Colonel Warren says the military is in no rush to send him back to the United States.“The phase two reintegration process simply takes as long as it takes," he said. "Every phase two integration is different.  There is no set timeline.”

    Interest in Bergdahl’s case has intensified since the deal securing his release was announced 10 days ago, with several soldiers from his platoon accusing him of deserting.

    Lawmakers have also been critical, saying U.S. President Barack Obama paid too high a price, releasing five high-risk Taliban leaders in exchange for Bergdahl’s freedom.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is set to testify before lawmakers about the deal Wednesday.

    Jeff Seldin

    Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

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