The Washington Post

‘No reason to believe’ Bergdahl collaborated with Taliban captors, Army officials say

The Army has “no reason to believe” that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl collaborated with his Taliban captors during his five years as a prisoner, as some have speculated, and he has not said anything that might incriminate him in other misconduct, Army officials said Wednesday.

A two-star Army general is currently investigating the exact circumstances of Bergdahl’s 2009 disappearance from his post in Afghanistan, which led to his capture by the Taliban-allied Haqqani network.

Investigators have not yet interviewed Bergdahl, who was released May 31 as part of a controversial prisoner exchange with the Taliban. He is now living at a San Antonio military base, where specialists are helping him reintegrate into society after his prolonged captivity, some of which he spent locked in a cage.

Some of Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers have speculated publicly that he may have collaborated with this captors while he was a prisoner.

Army officials said Wednesday that they had no evidence of that so far, an assessment based on an earlier Army investigation conducted just after Bergdahl’s capture as well as on what Bergdahl has said so far to members of his reintegration team.

“We have no reason to believe that he engaged in any misconduct during that period of time,” a senior Army official said, speaking on condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the Pentagon.

The Army said that Bergdahl had not yet been read his rights but that an attorney would be appointed for him prior to any questioning by Army investigators — unless he requested one sooner or said something potentially incriminating.

Gen. Kenneth Dahl, who is leading the investigation, has until approximately mid-August to complete his report, which will determine whether Bergdahl deserted from his remote post in eastern Afghanistan, or was absent without leave, or was kidnapped outright.

The difference between desertion and absent without leave is intent, officials said; either of those findings could lead to court-martial and punishments including prison time.

The earlier Army investigation found that Bergdahl had left his post willingly but did not deal with the question of his intentions since officials could not interview him.

Officials declined to comment Wednesday on whether Bergdahl is psychologically able to answer investigators’ questions, or how his mental health might factor into the investigation or possible outcomes of his case.

Stephanie McCrummen is a national enterprise reporter for The Washington Post. Previously, she was the paper's East Africa bureau chief. She has also reported from Egypt, Iraq and Mexico, among other places.

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