Swapped U.S. soldier returns home

Sgt Bowe Bergdahl Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Mr. Bergdahl was handed over on May 31 in return for five senior Taliban detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects.

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The Pentagon has confirmed that the U.S. soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, freed in a controversial swap with the Afghan Taliban has returned to the U.S., after five years in captivity.

It said Mr. Bergdahl arrived on Friday on a flight from Germany to San Antonio, Texas, where he would continue treatment at the Brooke Army Medical Centre.

“Since his release on May 31, Bergdahl has been treated in a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany and he will be admitted at another military hospital,’’ it said.

Mr. Bergdahl was handed over on May 31 in return for five senior Taliban detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects.

The Pentagon said the soldier would continue the next phase of his reintegration process.

“There is no timeline for this process. Our focus remains on his health and well-being.” It said.

Mr. Bergdahl spent five years in the captivity of Afghan insurgents.

The exchange for the Taliban detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay prison resulted in an outcry led by opposition Republicans.

Critics of the exchange say U.S. President Barack Obama gave up too many high-ranking detainees in the swap and carried out the exchange without prior notification of Congress.

Members of Mr. Bergdahl’s unit added fuel to the fire when they accused him of desertion.

Chuck Hagel, U.S. Defence Secretary defended the handling of the prisoner exchange, telling Congress that the time frame for obtaining Mr. Bergdahl’s release was narrow and uncertain, forcing the decision
to proceed before congressional notification could be given.

“We grew increasingly concerned that any delay or any leak could derail the deal and further endanger Sergeant Bergdahl,” he said.

Mr. Bergdahl’s disappearance from a base in eastern Afghanistan in 2009 fuelled speculation that the soldier deserted his post before being captured and may face prosecution by military authorities.
(Dpa/NAN)

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