Bergdahl Defense Can Access Classified Information, Court Rules

(Reuters) -

Lawyers for U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who faces a potential life sentence for desertion while serving in Afghanistan, should have access to classified material to prepare his defense, a military appeals court has ruled.

Legal proceedings against Bergdahl, which had been halted pending a resolution of the classified material issue, can now resume, according to a ruling by the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals that was made public late on Saturday by Bergdahl’s attorney, Eugene Fidell.

Bergdahl, now 30, walked away from his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was captured by the Taliban, who held him prisoner for five years and tortured him. He later told military investigators that he left his post because he had a plan to tell military brass about incompetence among his commanders.

He was freed in a prisoner swap in May 2014 involving the release of five Taliban leaders who were being held by the United States. The exchange was criticized by Republicans in Congress.