Bowe Bergdahl

Reports: Bowe Bergdahl seeks presidential pardon before Obama leaves office

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, right, arriving for a hearing at Fort Bragg, N.C., in July.
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, right, arriving for a hearing at Fort Bragg, N.C., in July. AP/The Fayetteville Observer

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the Idaho soldier who was captured by the Taliban after he left his post in Afghanistan and was held for five years, has requested a pardon from President Barack Obama, according to news reports Friday.

The New York Times and Fox News reported the request, saying Berghdahl's letter thanked Obama for rescuing him in a controversial 2014 trade for five Taliban prioners who were held in Gitmo. The Secretary of the Army was copied on the letter to the president, but the pardon was not formally requested through the military chain of command, the New York Times reports.

A Justice Department official confirmed receiving a pardon petition from Bergdahl. Pentagon and White House officials would not immediately respond for comment, and Bergdahl’s attorney would not comment, the Times reports. Fox News reported the pardon request was confirmed by two senior U.S. officials.

Bergdahl, who grew up in Hailey, has been assigned to Fort Sam Houston since his May 2014 return to the U.S., awaiting a military trial on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. He could face up to life in prison.

His court-martial trial is set for next spring at Fort Bragg, NC.

A pardon from Obama would resolve Bergdahl's situation before president-elect Donald Trump takes office. Trump has referred to Bergdahl as “a no-good traitor who should have been executed.”

After the presidential election, Bergdahl’s legal team submitted copies of a clemency application to the White House, the Justice Department and the Pentagon, White House and Justice Department officials. It requested a pre-emptive pardon that would avert Bergdahl’s court-martial trial on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy that endangered fellow soldiers, the Times reports.

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