Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who vanished in Afghanistan in 2009 and spent five years in brutal captivity until the United States recovered him in a controversial prisoner swap, pleaded guilty Monday to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy in connection his disappearance.
Bergdahl, 29, entered the plea at Fort Bragg, N.C., according to The Associated Press. The desertion charge carries a penalty of up to five years, and the misbehavior before the enemy charge carries a penalty of up to life confinement. Bergdahl walked away from his patrol base just before midnight June 29, 2009, in what an Army investigation determined was an attempt to cause a crisis and draw attention to concerns that Bergdahl had about his leaders.
The soldier was captured within hours by the Taliban, and turned over to the Haqqani network, a group over the border in Pakistan that tortured him on and off for years. Bergdahl was sprung when the Obama administration decided to recover him in a May 2014 trade in which the U.S. government released five Taliban officials from captivity into supervised release in Qatar, a move that was bitterly protested by soldiers who considered him a traitor for deserting his post and endangering others who were ordered to search for him.
It is not clear what sentence Bergdahl will receive. His sentencing is expected to occur at Fort Bragg in a hearing Oct. 23.