SAN ANTONIO, June 17 (Reuters) - U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who spent five years as a Taliban prisoner of war before being released last month, was being informed of the media attention surrounding his return as he recovers at a military hospital, the Army said on Tuesday.
Bergdahl arrived in the predawn hours of Friday at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, on a military flight from Germany, dogged by questions surrounding his disappearance from a U.S. Army post in Afghanistan and the deal the Obama administration reached to free him.
“He is gradually being provided media coverage about him,” Colonel Hans Bush, a reintegration mission spokesman for U.S. Army South, said in a brief statement.
“He has acclimated to his time change from Germany. He is eating and sleeping on a routine schedule. His debriefings and medical care continue,” Bush said.
The U.S. military said on Monday it had begun an investigation into Bergdahl’s 2009 disappearance in Afghanistan, with no time set for its completion.
While the Army also gave little information about Bergdahl’s health and emotional state, officials said they were pleased with his physical state on arrival.
The military hospital in San Antonio where Bergdahl has been receiving what the Army calls “reintegration” treatment has teams of specialists and has been helping returning prisoners of war for decades.
Bergdahl was handed over to U.S. forces in Afghanistan on May 31 in exchange for five Taliban leaders held at the Guantanamo prison in Cuba. His release initially sparked a wave of support that was quickly overshadowed by a political uproar over the freeing of the senior Taliban members.
Lawmakers criticized the Obama administration for failing to give them 30 days’ notice before transferring prisoners from Guantanamo as required by law. Some charged that in making the exchange, the administration had effectively violated its policy against negotiating with terrorists.
Some of Bergdahl’s former comrades in Afghanistan alleged he had deserted when he walked away from his post, in circumstances that are unclear, and was later captured. (Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Jim Loney)