Lt. Col. Mark Visger, the military officer in charge of the hearing for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, has recommended he doesn’t do any jail time.
On Friday, Bergdahl’s legal team released a memorandum saying it agreed with Visger’s recommendation that their client shouldn’t be sent to jail or receive a punitive discharge.
Although the recommendation hasn’t been announced publicly by the Army, it could have a significant impact on Bergdahl’s case. Bergdahl was charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, two serious charges that can result in significant jail time if he is convicted.
According to Danny Cevallos, a CNN legal analyst, Visger’s recommendation isn’t “the final say.”
“The case still has to go up to command where another decision will be made whether to accept that recommendation,” he said.
In 2009, Bergdahl disappeared in Afghanistan after deserting his unit. He was later captured by the Taliban and held captive for five years.
Last year, President Obama freed five Taliban members that were detained in Guantanamo Bay to secure Bergdahl’s release. The prisoner swap was a very controversial move that created a political firestorm in the U.S.
Visger is the second military official that has suggested that Bergdahl should be spared from doing time behind bars. Last month, the Army general that led the investigation into Bergdahl’s actions in Afghanistan testified that sending Bergdahl to jail would be inappropriate.
According to Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, he did not find any evidence that suggested that Bergdahl was sympathetic to the Taliban when he interviewed him.
Dahl testified that Bergdahl was trying to call attention to what he thought was poor leadership of his unit. At the time, Bergdahl thought that by leaving his observation post and running 14 miles to the next base, he would be able to cause a stir and gain access to a high-ranking officer he could complain to.
Last month, Dahl said he didn’t think Bergdahl would be sent to jail after the case is settled.
Some military members and soldiers that served with Bergdahl weren’t happy with the prisoner swap that got him released from Taliban captivity.
Some members of his unit believe he purposefully abandoned his post before being captured by the Taliban, and they believe the U.S effort to rescue him was misguided.
The White House hasn’t expressed any remorse about releasing Taliban soldiers to rescue Bergdahl.
At the time of his release, President Obama said, “We still get an American soldier back if he’s held in captivity. Period. Full stop. We don’t condition that.”