Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl pleaded guilty Monday before a military judge to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, according to the New York Times.
According to the New York Times, Bergdahl, now 31, left his base in Afghanistan in June 2009. He was held captive by the Taliban for five years before the Obama administration traded five Taliban detainees from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for his release in 2014.
The controversial prisoner swap came up during the 2016 presidential election when then-candidate Donald Trump said Bergdahl was a “traitor” and called for his execution.
According to the Times, Bergdahl told Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, the Army’s chief investigator, that he decided to leave the base so he could walk to another base about 18 miles away in order to report what he characterized as leadership problems in his unit. The Times noted that Dahl has testified that Bergdahl may have been “delusional” at the time.
The desertion charge could result in a five-year jail sentence, but the misbehavior charge could be a life sentence.
Former unit members have alleged that the deaths of six soldiers are directly or indirectly related to the search for Bergdahl, according to CNN.
What did Bergdahl say?
According to CNN, during questioning on Monday, Bergdahl said, “I left my observation post on my own.”
He added: “I understand leaving was against the law.”