An Army report details Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s claim that he only left his unit to walk to the nearest U.S. military outpost to report a claim of wrongdoing at his base.
Bergdahl’s lawyer, Eugene Fidell told Newsmax Thursday, “He had concerns about certain conditions in the unit and things that happened in the unit and he figured that the only way to get any attention to them would be to get that information to a general officer.”
He explains that Bergdahl’s defense will center around this assertion and that he was AWOL, rather than a deserter.
Newsmax explains that this distinction could mean the difference between one month of confinement or life in prison.
“SGT Bergdahl has been vilified as a coward in the absence of a shred of evidence to support that description,” Fidell wrote. “Whatever physical danger SGT Bergdahl may face when he reenters private life (and I fear he will), it would be very difficult to assemble an impartial court-martial panel.”
Fidell also argues in the memo that because the Army returned Bergdahl to regular duty once he was freed shows they condoned his actions and thus absolved him of punishment, a legal term known as “constructive condonation.”
He also claims that leaving behind his weapon to walk to the nearest base he shouldn’t be charged with avoiding “hazardous duty” because it was more dangerous to be outside the wire without a weapon than being inside the base with a rifle.
According to Newsmax, “Bergdahl’s emerging defense is part factual, part emotional. It rests on his personal credibility and his intent when he left his base. His fate now depends on military officials believing that he’s being truthful. That’s going to be a tough sell, given that his judge and jury will be made up of officers from the Army he left behind that night.”