Bergdahl Gets His Charge Thrown Out

A U.S. federal judge has thrown out the 2017 court-martial conviction of a former US soldier who was captured and tortured by the Taliban after he deserted his post in Afghanistan in 2007.

Bowe Bergdahl, now 37 years old, had been sentenced to suffer a dishonorable discharge, reduction in rank to the lowest enlisted pay grade, and an effective fine of $10,000. Tuesday's ruling vacates the court-martial conviction.

Bergdahl's desertion had put his fellow soldiers at risk, as they searched for him in the treacherous terrain of Afghanistan. After his capture, he spent five years in captivity, during which he was tortured by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton had criticized military judge Jeffrey Nance, who presided over Bergdahl's court-martial proceedings, for applying at the time to become a federal immigration judge without disclosing this fact. The court did not find any actual bias, however.

Walton then used the ruling to caution politicians about commenting on ongoing cases, in an apparent reference to former President Donald Trump who denounced Bergdahl as a traitor who should have been executed.

The Army has yet to issue a statement of comment and now-retired Judge Nance was not available when contacted by Fox News. However, Texas Tech University School of Law military law expert Geoffrey Corn was available to comment, expressing his surprise at the court's decision. "Do they bring him back to active duty and retry him? I highly doubt that will happen, but it might," Corn said.

The U.S. freed Bergdahl in 2014 in a prisoner swap for the release of 5 Taliban leaders. Though many of Trump's supporters heavily criticized this agreement, Bergdahl's expressions of remorse have seemed enough to shift the legal proceedings in his favor. During his 2017 court-martial trial, he tearfully apologized to those hurt by his actions.

Bergdahl's traumatic retreat from his post and subsequent capture have left lasting emotional scars. In his testimony before the court he shared that due to his repeated escape attempts, he spent four out of his five years in detention in a cage. Furthermore, even upon his release, the tightness of his muscle imprisonment led him to barely be able to stand.

It appears that the trauma of Bergdahl's experience with his captors continues to follow him - even 6 years after his release. He now sleeps with a flashlight and checks his door three times before trying to go to bed. Additionally, everyday scents such as perfume or garbage can unexpectedly bring back the horrible memories of what he suffered while in the Taliban's clutches.

Bergdahl is the only soldier in the U.S. to ever be charged with the crime of desertion after the Vietnam War. His court-martial conviction has now been vacated, though it remains unclear what the next steps in Bergdahl's case will be.

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