U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, a former Taliban prisoner in Afghanistan, was formally charged on Wednesday with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, and could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of the most serious count, the Army said.
Bergdahl’s attorney, Eugene Fidell of Yale Law School, said the Army had scheduled an Article 32 investigation hearing for April 22 to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to proceed with a court-martial.
The Army said the investigation, similar to a civilian grand jury proceeding, would take place at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.
Bergdahl, 28, was released from Taliban custody last summer in a controversial prisoner swap that saw five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, transferred to Qatar, where they were required to remain for a year.
At least three of the five Taliban leaders traded last year for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl have tried to plug back into their old terror networks, a government official familiar with the intelligence told Fox News, describing it as an attempt to “re-engage.”
The new allegations come as the one-year deal governing the former Guantanamo detainees’ supervised release in the Gulf nation of Qatar is set to expire — at the end of May.
The desertion charge carries a maximum prison term of five years, while the misbehavior count carries a maximum term of life in prison, he said. The charges also carry a number of other potential punishments, including a dishonorable discharge, reduction in rank to private and forfeiture of all pay.