The U.S. military and intelligence community now suspect that one of the five Taliban detainees released from Guantanamo Bay in return for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in May of a year ago has attempted to return to militant activity from his current location in Qatar by making contact with suspected Taliban associates in Afghanistan, multiple officials tell CNN.
The 31-year-old Idaho native trembled in a military courtroom at Fort Bragg as he waited to hear his punishment.
His attorneys also argued that along with post-traumatic stress disorder, Bergdahl had a personality disorder before enlisting and wasn't aware of his actions or the consequences of his desertion, which included injuries sustained by USA troops searching for him. Their argument for leniency also cited harsh campaign-trail criticism by Donald Trump and Bergdahl's mental disorders.
"The decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military", the commander-in-chief tweeted from aboard Air Force One while on his way to a 13-day trip to Asia.
According to Mr Fidell, that forms "an extremely strong basis for dismissal of the case".
Army Col. Jeffery Nance didn't explain how he formulated his sentence that also included a dishonorable discharge.
Prosecutors unsuccessfully fought for a prison sentence. Bergdahl's case has sparked fierce emotions among politicians, the general public and the military alike.
Major Justin Oshana, an army prosecutor for the Bergdahl case, stated to the court that soldiers had been injured in the search for Bergdahl, including 6 soldiers who were killed in the search. At other campaign stops, he repeatedly called Bergdahl a "dirty rotten traitor" who "should have been executed" and suggested he be shot or thrown from a plane.
Bergdahl's defense team argued Trump's comments would affect the case, though the judge disagreed.
Defense attorneys argued at Bergdahl's sentencing hearing that he was a young, hardworking soldier who did not understand the full consequences of his actions when he deserted.
"Justice is not rescuing Sgt. Bergdahl from his Taliban captors, in the cage where he was for years, only to place him in a cell", Capt. Nina Banks, a member of the defense counsel, said Thursday.