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Bergdahl to be charged with desertion

The army sergeant who abandoned his post in Afghanistan and was held captive by the Taliban for five years will be court-martialed on charges of desertion and avoiding military service, a U.S. official said today.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will also be charged with misbehavior before the enemy, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the announcement on the record and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

The charges are the latest development in a long and bitter debate over Bergdahl’s case, and underscore the military and political ramifications of his decision on June 30, 2009, to leave his post after expressing misgivings about the U.S. military’s role, as well as his own, in the Afghanistan war.

Desertion can carry a maximum penalty of death, but most military officials have said they believe that is not likely in this case.

After leaving his post, Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban and held by members of the Haqqani network, an insurgent group tied to the Taliban that operates both in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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