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Army Officer Recommends No Jail Time for Bowe Bergdahl, Attorney Says

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Defense attorney Eugene Fidell said Lt. Col. Mark Visger has decided a civilian system should handle Bergdahl's case.

This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The Taliban proposed a deal in which they would free the U.S. soldier held captive since 2009 in exchange for five of their most senior operatives at Guantanamo Bay, while Afghan President Hamid Karzai eased his opposition Thursday June 20, 2013 to joining planned peace talks. (Image source: AP)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — An Army officer is recommending that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl face a lower-level court martial and be spared the possibility of jail time for leaving his post in Afghanistan, his lawyer said Saturday.

This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. (Image source: AP) This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. (Image source: AP)

Defense attorney Eugene Fidell said Lt. Col. Mark Visger has decided a civilian system should handle Bergdahl's case. It limits the maximum punishment reduction of rank, a bad conduct discharge and a short jail term, though that isn't being sought, Fidell said.

Military prosecutors charged Bergdahl in March with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, a charge that could carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban after leaving his post on June 30, 2009, and held until last year, when he was exchanged for five Taliban commanders. His commanding officers say a 45-day search for Bergdahl put soldiers in danger.

Visger presided over last month's Article 32 hearing in Texas that reviewed evidence against Bergdahl. Visger submitted a report with his recommendation on Monday, but the Army hadn't said what Visger recommended.

Gen. Robert Abrams, the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, will ultimately decide whether the case should be referred to a court-martial. No timeline has been given for a decision from Abrams.

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