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US Army Sergeant Bergdahl to Enter Plea in Desertion Case


Sgt. Robert B. Bergdahl (R) arrives at the court house for a hearing in the case of United States vs. Bergdahl in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, U.S., Oct. 16, 2017.

U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, accused of endangering fellow soldiers who searched for him after he walked off his combat outpost in Afghanistan in
2009 and was captured by the Taliban, is scheduled to enter a plea in his case on Monday.

The Army said Bergdahl, 31, would appear in court in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he was scheduled to stand trial this month on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, with the latter offense carrying a possible life sentence.

The Associated Press, citing unnamed sources, reported he would plead guilty to those charges. Bergdahl's lawyer and the Army have declined to comment on the nature of the plea.

The Idaho native has been derided by Republicans who criticized the Obama administration for the Taliban prisoner swap in 2014 that won his release after five years in captivity.

During last year's presidential campaign, Donald Trump called Bergdahl "a no-good traitor who should have been executed."

Bergdahl's lawyers argued such comments made it impossible for him to get a fair trial, but military judges refused to dismiss the charges.

"We may as well go back to kangaroo courts and lynch mobs that got what they wanted," Bergdahl said in a 2016 interview with a British filmmaker obtained by ABC News/Good Morning America and aired on Monday. "The people who want to hang me, you're never going to convince those people."

In the interview, Bergdahl did not say why he left his military post before he was captured but rejected the notion that he sympathized with his captors.

"It's very insulting, the idea that they would think I did that," he said, adding he was confined to a small cage for more than four years.

Bergdahl, who was charged in 2015, remains on active duty in a clerical job at a base in San Antonio. He said in a podcast in 2015 that he left his post to draw attention to leadership failures in his unit.

The official search for him lasted 45 days, but the United States spent years trying to determine his whereabouts and bring him home.

During that time, he endured torture, abuse and neglect at the hands of Taliban forces, a military expert testified previously.

Additional reporting by Jim Forsyth in San Antonio and Chris Kenning in Chicago; Editing by Peter Cooney and Bernadette Baum.

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