Bowe Bergdahl, U.S. soldier held by Taliban for 5 years, pleads guilty to desertion
The 31-year-old Army sergeant entered his plea on Monday before a military judge at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The Idaho native’s lawyers have argued he cannot get a fair trial following criticism from Donald Trump during last year’s presidential campaign.
Mr Trump had called him “a no-good traitor who should have been executed.”
It’s not clear if Bergdahl, 31, has a deal with prosecutors to limit his punishment, or if he’s simply pleading guilty in hopes of leniency from the judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance. The misbehavior charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, while the desertion charge is punishable by up to five years.
Bergdahl’s lawyers are expected to reveal in court Monday whether there’s a plea agreement in place to cap his punishment, or if he’s pleading guilty without such a deal in what’s known colloquially as a “naked plea.” In either scenario, his punishment won’t be known until after the judge holds the sentencing hearing that’s expected to start on Oct. 23. Bergdahl, who’s from Hailey, Idaho, previously chose to have his case heard by a judge alone, rather than a jury.