Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will serve no prison time for endangering fellow soldiers when he walked off his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was captured by the Taliban.
Army Col. Judge Jeffery R. Nance said Bergdahl will be dishonorably discharged and have his rank reduced to private. He issued the ruling Friday after nearly two weeks of testimony by Bergdahl’s former comrades. Bergdahl, 31, was held by the Taliban for five years before being released in a prisoner swap in 2014.
Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy on Oct. 16 and faced the possibility of life in prison. Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence him to 14 years behind bars, arguing that he was responsible for serious injuries soldiers suffered in the massive search effort to find him.
Bergdahl admitted his guilt without any assurances from the prosecution about his sentencing, hoping for leniency before the judge. In emotional testimony earlier this week, Bergdahl apologized to soldiers who were wounded while searching for him.
“I would like everyone who searched for me to know it was never my intention for anyone to be hurt, and I never expected that to happen,” he said. “My words alone can’t take away their pain.”
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