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HomeWORLD NEWSThe judge vacates Bowe Bergdahl's conviction for desertion

The judge vacates Bowe Bergdahl’s conviction for desertion

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — On Tuesday, a federal judge vacated the military conviction of Bowe Bergdahl, a former U.S. Army soldier who pleaded guilty to desertion after he deserted his post, was captured in Afghanistan, and tormented by the Taliban.

Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion after he was captured in Afghanistan and tortured by the Taliban.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton in Washington states that military judge Jeffrey Nance failed to disclose that he had applied to the executive branch for a position as an immigration judge, creating a potential conflict of interest.

Walton stated that former President Donald Trump had harshly criticized Bergdahl throughout the 2016 presidential campaign. Bergdahl’s attorneys argued that Trump’s remarks gave Nance undue command influence.

Walton rejected the specific argument regarding undue command influence, but he acknowledged that a reasonable person could query the impartiality of the judge under the circumstances.

After the then-23-year-old from Hailey, Idaho, abandoned his post in Afghanistan in 2009, he was charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

He claimed he was attempting to leave his post so he could report what he perceived to be inadequate leadership within his unit, but the Taliban captured him and held him captive for nearly five years.

Bergdahl was repeatedly tormented and beaten with copper wires, rubber hoses, and rifle butts during this time. According to court documents, he was confined to a small cell for four years following multiple escape attempts.

Several American servicemen were injured while scouring for Bergdahl. In 2014, he was returned to the United States in exchange for five Taliban leaders confined at Guantanamo Bay.

The exchange was criticized by Trump, then-Senator John McCain, and others. Trump and McCain both demanded that Bergdahl be severely punished.

In 2017, he admitted culpability on both counts. After he presented evidence of the torment he endured while in Taliban custody, his court-martial sentence was reduced to zero years.

He was dishonorably discharged from the military and was ordered to forfeit $10,000 in pay.

Before his attorneys brought the case before the U.S. District Court on Tuesday, his conviction and sentence had been narrowly upheld by military appeals tribunals.

Tuesday, the Justice Department declined to comment on the ruling.

Eugene Fidell, one of Bergdahl’s attorneys, said he was pleased with the ruling and that Walton’s 63-page opinion demonstrates how meticulously he rendered the decision.

Tuesday evening, calls and emails were not returned by the immigration court in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Nance currently serves as an immigration judge.



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