Bergdahl Pleads Guilty: Will Judge Go Easy?
Army sergeant admits to desertion for walking off base in Afghanistan
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 16, 2017 9:40 AM CDT
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl leaves a motions hearing during a lunch break on Sept. 27, 2017, in Fort Bragg, NC.   (Andrew Craft/The Fayetteville Observer via AP)

(Newser) – Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl pleaded guilty Monday to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy for walking off his military base in Afghanistan back in 2009. The big question now is how long of a sentence he'll receive. The AP doesn't think his legal team struck a deal to limit his punishment, suggesting that Bergdahl's best hope is that the guilty plea will result in leniency from the military judge. He faces five years for the desertion charge but up to life in prison on the misbehavior charge. "I understand that leaving was against the law," Bergdahl told the judge. "At the time, I had no intention of causing search and recovery operations."

The misbehavior charge essentially means that Bergdahl acknowledges that he endangered the lives of US troops who searched for him, reports the New York Times. Bergdahl ended up being held by the Taliban for five years before the Obama administration engineered a controversial swap—his freedom for that of five detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The 31-year-old has said he walked off base because he hoped to make it to a larger US base and report what he viewed as problems with his command leaders. Bergdahl's sentencing hearing is expected to start on Oct. 23.

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