"Formally charged Sgt. Bergdahl ... with desertion with intent to shirk important or hazardous duty," said Col. Daniel J.W. King at a press conference.
The U.S. Army announced Wednesday it's charging Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy for abandoning his post in 2009.
Bergdahl was held by the Taliban in Afghanistan before the U.S. freed five Guantanamo detainees in exchange for his release. (Video via U.S. Army)
"According to officials, on the night Bergdahl walked away from his post, he was scheduled to walk guard duty at that remote outpost at dawn," MSNBC correspondent Jim Miklaszewski reported.
The Manual for Courts-Martial United States says the maximum punishment for desertion with intent to avoid hazardous duty includes "dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances and confinement for five years."
After the army’s announcement, Bergdahl’s lawyer released a letter written by Bergdahl outlining the hardship and torture he faced during his captivity by the Taliban.
He said he was beaten, chained and put in a cage, and wrote, “I was kept in constant isolation during the entire 5 years.”
White House Communications director Jen Psaki defended the choice to swap taliban detainees for Bergdahl on Fox News Wednesday. “Was it worth it? Absolutely. We have a commitment to our men and women serving in the military, defending our national security every day, that we’re going to do everything to bring them home if we can, and that’s what we did in this case.”
Bergdahl will now face a preliminary hearing, similar to a civilian grand jury, which will be announced at a later date. Following that preliminary hearing and recommendations, the report will be forwarded to a General Courts Martial Convening Authority, which will decide what to do with the charges.