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Bowe Bergdahl headed home to U.S., will land in Texas on Friday

Tribune Washington Bureau

June 12. 2014 9:33PM
U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl waits in a pickup truck before he is freed at the Afghan border in this still image from video released June 4. (REUTERS)

WASHINGTON — Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, captured by Taliban members in 2009, is en route to the United States, according to military officials.

Bergdahl, who had been receiving treatment at a military hospital in Germany since his release May 31, will arrive in San Antonio on Friday, Lt. Col. Tom Crosson said.

It was not clear how long Bergdahl would stay in Texas, Crosson said. “It’s just another phase in his reintegration.”

In a statement confirming that Bergdahl was on his way home, Rear Adm. John Kirby said he would be treated at Brooke Army Medical Center.

“As (Defense) Secretary (Chuck) Hagel has made clear, our first priority is making sure that Sgt. Bergdahl continues to get the care and support he needs,” Kirby said.

In exchange for releasing Bergdahl, five Afghans being held at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were sent to Qatar.

Bergdahl’s release has sparked a series of controversies, such as whether President Barack Obama had the authority to make the prisoner exchange and criticism that Bergdahl went AWOL shortly before his capture.

An initial Army investigation concluded that Bergdahl, now 28, left his remote base in eastern Afghanistan without permission in June 2009. His motive remains unclear.

Although negotiations between the U.S. and the Haqqani network, a terrorist collective with ties to the Taliban, were handled through intermediaries in Qatar, some legislators have also questioned whether the U.S. violated its policy of not negotiating with terrorists in securing Bergdahl’s freedom.

Bergdahl has said he was kept in a small, confined space after he made an escape attempt and was recaptured, and he told military doctors he was the victim of abuse during his years in captivity.His hometown of Hailey, Idaho, had initially planned a welcome celebration, but canceled the event amid threats and security issues.

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