Attorney: Army officer recommends no jail time for Bergdahl

Bowe Bergdahl
This undated file image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. A Pentagon investigation concluded in 2010 that Bergdahl walked away from his unit, and after an initial flurry of searching, the military decided not to exert extraordinary efforts to rescue him, according to a former senior defense official who was involved in the matter. Instead, the U.S. government pursued negotiations to get him back over the following five years of his captivity — a track that led to his release over the weekend. (AP Photo/U.S. Army, File)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — An Army officer is recommending that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl face a lower-level court martial and be spared the possibility of jail time for leaving his post in Afghanistan, his lawyer said Saturday.

Defense attorney Eugene Fidell said Lt. Col. Mark Visger has decided a civilian system should handle Bergdahl’s case. It limits the maximum punishment reduction of rank, a bad conduct discharge and a short jail term, though that isn’t being sought, Fidell said.

Military prosecutors charged Bergdahl in March with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, a charge that could carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban after leaving his post on June 30, 2009, and held until last year, when he was exchanged for five Taliban commanders. His commanding officers say a 45-day search for Bergdahl put soldiers in danger.

Visger presided over last month’s Article 32 hearing in Texas that reviewed evidence against Bergdahl. Visger submitted a report with his recommendation on Monday, but the Army hadn’t said what Visger recommended.

Gen. Robert Abrams, the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, will ultimately decide whether the case should be referred to a court-martial. No timeline has been given for a decision from Abrams.

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