State News

Army, Bergdahl attorneys battle over documents in court-martial

Posted January 12, 2016 6:25 a.m. EST
Updated January 12, 2016 5:06 p.m. EST

— Lawyers for the Army and a soldier charged with desertion fought Tuesday morning over what documents the defense can access and use at the soldier's court-martial this summer.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, 29, of Hailey, Idaho, disappeared in Afghanistan in 2009 after walking away from his post, and he was held by the Taliban for five years. He was released in 2014 in exchange for five detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Bergdahl has been charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, and a court-martial has been scheduled for August at Fort Bragg.

During a pre-trial hearing Tuesday, defense attorneys argued that they should have access to about 25,000 documents, totaling some 300,000 pages, from the Army's investigation of the case. One 370-page document, for example, is the transcript of an interview with a general.

Prosecutors argued that it would be a burden to determine which parts of the documents contain classified information, so they want to set up rules for what documents the defense can and cannot have.

Military judge Col. Jeffrey Nance told the defense attorneys to file a motion outlining their objections to a proposed protective order, and another hearing would be held to resolve the matter.

Bergdahl said last year that he walked off his Afghanistan base to bring attention to what he saw as a failure of leadership in his unit and to prove his bravery. Six soldiers died searching for him following his disappearance.

Bergdahl was arraigned during a short hearing last month, but did not enter a plea on the charges. He could get a life sentence if convicted of the relatively rare charge of misbehavior before the enemy.