U.S.: Video surfaces of Hailey soldier Bowe Bergdahl

The clip reportedly proves that Bergdahl is alive in Pakistan but in ‘diminished health.’

jsowell@idahostatesman.comJanuary 16, 2014 

The parents of captured U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl urged their son to keep faith that he will be freed one day, after learning that U.S. officials received a new video showing Bergdahl.

“Bowe — if (you) see this, continue to remain strong through patience. Your endurance will carry you to the finish line. Breathe!” Jani and Robert Bergdahl wrote in a statement released Wednesday by Col. Tim Marsano of the Idaho National Guard. Marsano has served as a family spokesman.

In the statement, the Bergdahls said they learned about the video Wednesday.

“Naturally, this is very important to us and our resolve to continue our efforts to bring Bowe home as soon as possible,” they wrote. “As we have done so many times over the past four and a half years, we request his captors to release him ... so that our only son can be reunited with his mother and father.”

The video came to light several days ago, a senior defense official told The Associated Press. Another official said that Bergdahl appeared in poorer health than in previous videos, showing the signs of his lengthy captivity.

The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been gone far too long, and we continue to call for and work toward his safe and immediate release,” Navy Cmdr. Elissa Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said in a statement.

“We cannot discuss all the details of our efforts, but there should be no doubt that on a daily basis — using our military, intelligence and diplomatic tools — we try to see Sgt. Bergdahl returned home safely. Our hearts are with the Bergdahl family.”

CNN reported that the video was recorded Dec. 14 and includes proof that Bergdahl was alive then.

“We’ve read the comments that say he doesn’t look as good as in past videos,” said Judd Deere, press secretary for Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho. “But without seeing this video, it's hard to say whether that is accurate.”

Crapo continues to be involved in efforts to free Bergdahl, Deere said.

“We continue to pray every day for his safe return,” he said.

The Statesman reached out to officials at the Pentagon and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, where Bergdahl was stationed before going overseas, but did not receive responses.

Bergdahl is the only U.S. soldier taken prisoner in the war in Afghanistan. Captured on June 30, 2009, he is believed to be held somewhere in Pakistan by the Haqqani network, though a senior Haqqani official denied in December 2012 that the group had him.

The Taliban have said that they would free Bergdahl in exchange for several of their most senior operatives who are being detained at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

John Sowell: 377-6423, Twitter: @IDS_Sowell

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