October 12, 2017 / 1:52 PM / in 6 days

U.S. Army Sergeant Bergdahl to enter plea in military court

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is pictured in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Army and received by Reuters on May 31, 2014. U.S Army/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

(Reuters) - U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who walked off his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was held captive by the Taliban for five years, will enter a plea in his court-martial at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on Monday, the Army said in an emailed statement.

The statement on Thursday did not specify details of the plea. Eugene Fidell, one of Bergdahl’s lawyers, declined to comment on the plea.

Citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the case, the Associated Press reported last week that the Idaho native would plead guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy by endangering U.S. troops.

The latter offense carries a sentence of up to life in prison. It was not clear whether prosecutors had agreed to recommend a lesser punishment in exchange for Bergdahl’s guilty plea.

Bergdahl, who was charged in 2015, said he left his post in June 2009 to draw attention to “leadership failure” in his unit.

After five years in captivity, he was released in 2014 in a prisoner swap with five Taliban detainees held by the United States. That decision was criticized by many Republican leaders, and President Donald Trump has called Bergdahl a “dirty, rotten traitor.”

Reporting by Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, N.C.; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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