REPORT: Bowe Bergdahl Will Face Desertion Charges

U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Berghdal is pictured in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Army and received by Reuters on May 31, 2014. REUTERS/U.S. Army/Handout via Reuters Thomson ReutersU.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Berghdal is pictured in handout photo provided by U.S. Army

US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who disappeared from his base in Afghanistan in 2009 but was released last year in a prisoner swap with the Taliban, will be charged with desertion, according to NBC.

The television network, citing senior defence officials, said the charges could come within a week.

According to NBC News, Bergdahl will be charged with leaving his outpost in Afghanistan in June of 2009 in order to “avoid hazardous duty or important service,” apparent grounds for a charge of desertion.

NBC’s source adds that because Bergdahl allegedly left his post “in the middle of a combat zone, potentially putting the lives of his fellows soldiers at risk,” he will be charged with desertion rather than being simply away without leave, or AWOL, which is a lesser charge.

Curiously, NBC is reporting that ” charges will apparently not allege that Bergdahl left with the intent never to return.” But this is one of the the legal components of desertion, as former Judge Advocate General lawyer and South Texas College of Law professor Geoffrey Corn told Business Insider on June 2, 2014, shortly after the prisoner swap that secured Bergdahl’s freedom after nearly five years in Taliban captivity.

As Corn said, a desertion conviction could depend on proving that Bergdahl “quit his unit with an intent to remain absent permanently — and he had to have that specific intent.” An established intent to return to one’s unit makes it more difficult to attain a conviction for desertion. Bergdahl had left and then returned to his outpost without permission on several occasions before he was abducted, suggesting that he might not have intended to stay away permanently.

The US exchanged 5 Taliban detainees for Bergdahl’s freedom in a controversial prisoner swap in mid-2014.

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