A lawyer for embattled US soldier Bowe Bergdahl questioned the move of a judge to subject his client to a full court martial. The lawyer also asked Donald Trump to stop talking about Bergdahl.
A lawyer for US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl spoke to the press on Monday following the news that his client would face a court martial for walking away from his post in Afghanistan in 2009.
Bergdahl's attorney decried the decision of Army General Robert Abrams not to follow the recommendation of a preliminary hearing for Bergdahl to face a lesser proceeding that could have given the sergeant a maximum of one year's confinement.
Lawyer to Trump: Be quiet
Defense counsel Eugene Fidell said in a statement, "I thought that the Article 32 proceeding had shown probable cause for a one-day AWOL (unauthorized leave) and that was it," he said.
Fidell also wrote that military authorities had ignored "the advice of the preliminary hearing officer who heard the witnesses." The attorney was likely referring to testimony by Major General Kenneth Dahl, who led the military investigation of the case, in which Dahl said no soldiers were killed in the search for Bergdahl and that the sergeant showed no signs of sympathy for the Taliban.
Fidell added that he "had hoped the case would not go in this direction," being calling on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who referred to Bergdahl as a "dirty, rotten traitor," to cease his prejudicial months-long campaign of defamation against our client." If Trump continues to speak about Bergdahl, Fidell argued, it could taint a prospective jury pool.
'Serial' takes on the Bergdahl story
29-year-old Bergdahl made headlines around the world when he was released from five years of Taliban captivity in 2014. But shortly after news of his freedom emerged, so did the strange details around his disappearance from his base- including the fact that he had left his post intentionally.
Bergdahl said he left to bring attention to the "leadership failure" he thought was endangering his team on an episode of the popular podcast "Serial," which last week released the first episode of its new season.
The entire next season of Serial, the most downloaded podcast in the medium's history and led by This American Life alum Sarah Koenig, will be devoted to Bergdahl's story.
Adding flame to the fire was the controversial decision to secure Bergdahl's freedom by swapping him for five Taliban prisoners being held in the Guantanamo Bay prison, who are now on supervised release in Qatar. Republicans skewered President Obama for the move, who argued that the president freed dangerous criminals in exchange for a deserter.
es/gsw (AFP, Reuters)