Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl described his five years in captivity publicly for the first time Wednesday, claiming beatings, death threats and isolation at the hands of Islamist terrorists, providing the account hours after the Army announced it was charging him with desertion.
Sgt. Bergdahl, who left his Afghanistan post in 2009, described torture he endured during his time in captivity, including being chained spread-eagle to a bed and beaten with a copper cable.
He said he was kept in total isolation for the whole five years and had no sense of time, enduring periods of total darkness and total light.
“After the first year they put me inside a cage,” Sgt. Bergdahl said in a statement released by his lawyer and reported on multiple news outlets Wednesday evening.
“In there, my hands were also handcuffed in front of me, being taken off only on the few times I would wash or change clothes, which came more often than in the first year when I would go 3 or 4 months without washing or changing clothes.”
He also said he was told that he would die there and told to kill himself, according to his written statement.
Sgt. Bergdahl said in the statement that he tried to escape approximately 12 times during his five years in captivity. One of the charges against him is misconduct around the enemy, and escape attempts could mitigate or even refute that military crime in a court-martial.
Sgt. Bergdahl was serving in Afghanistan in 2009 when he was captured by the Taliban. He came home in May after the administration swapped five high-risk Guantanamo Bay detainees in exchange for his release.
After his return home, some, including members of his unit, began questioning his suspicious disappearance. The Army launched an investigation about 10 months ago and announced Wednesday that he was being charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. If convicted, he could face life in prison.