Bergdahl arrives back on US soil as officials consider $600,000 pay-out for released PoW
US soldier accused by fellow troops of desertion after walking off Afghanistan base could be in line for $600,000 in back-pay and PoW compensation
By Philip Sherwell, New York
6:22PM BST 13 Jun 2014
Bowe Bergdhahl, America’s last American prisoner of war, has arrived back on US soil as officials prepare an investigation into his disappearance that will determine whether he receives more than $600,000 in back-pay and compensation.
The homecoming took place far from the cameras in the middle of the night as a military plane landed at an army medical centre in San Antonio, Texas, where officials said he would complete “the final phase of re-integration” after five years in captivity.
President Barack Obama has been criticised for freeing five senior Afghan Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Sgt Bergdahl, 28, who was treated at a US military hospital in Germany after his release last month.
Controversy has also surrounded the events when he walked off a remote US outpost in Afghanistan in June 2009 and was seized by Taliban insurgents.
The Pentagon investigation into his disappearance will determine whether he is eligible for more than $300,000 in back-pay and a similar sum as compensation for being held as a prisoner of war.
A large pay-out for the sergeant is likely to further anger some former comrades who have argued that he should be court-martialled for desertion and blamed him for the deaths of six soldiers in operations searching for him.
Sgt Bergdahl has not spoken to his family in Idaho or made any public comments about his imprisonment. But some details have emerged, including his accounts to officials that he was held in a cage, hooded and in the dark, for weeks at a time after escape attempts.
Two letters to his parents, written from captivity and obtained by The Daily Beast website, offered his first perspective on his disappearance. He criticised his unit’s commanders for their lack of leadership and urged the US government to reserve judgement about his actions until they had “all the evidence”.