Bowe Bergdahl

Bergdahl has spoken to his parents since return, attorney confirms

Bob and Jani Bergdahl at a June 2014 press conference at Gowen Field in Boise.
Bob and Jani Bergdahl at a June 2014 press conference at Gowen Field in Boise. Idaho Statesman file

“They’re in contact,” attorney Eugene Fidell told the Statesman, answering a question dating to Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s return to the U.S. in mid-2014.

Fidell declined to give further details, including whether parents Bob and Jani Bergdahl have talked to their son in person. “The trend line is positive,” he added. “They’re entitled to privacy.”

But his answer gives some clarity to one small aspect of Bergdahl’s return that Statesman readers still ask about.

Bergdahl, of Hailey, walked away from his unit in Afghanistan in 2009, saying he wanted to draw attention to problems within the military. Captured soon after, he was held for five years by a group affiliated with the Taliban before he returned to the U.S. as part of a controversial prisoner swap in May 2014. Now, he awaits a full military court-martial, charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

The sergeant didn’t travel to Idaho after his release, but to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. There, he was treated and debriefed after his time in captivity, then interviewed for the Army’s investigation. He’s still on active duty and has “administrative duties” at the base, according to previous reports.

Starting in 2011, Bob and Jani Bergdahl actively lobbied for their son’s rescue and release, appearing at national rallies, giving occasional interviews and attempting to engage directly with the Taliban at times. But the prisoner swap that retrieved Bowe set off a political backlash and after a brief Rose Garden appearance and a short press conference in Boise, the parents sought privacy.

That made it hard to confirm reports later in July 2014 when a Pentagon spokesman told the Associated Press he didn’t believe Bowe Bergdahl had seen his parents since his return. Some news media depicted the sergeant as actively avoiding his parents; others noted the context wasn’t clear.

Unspecified sources told CNN that October that Bergdahl had started “communicating” with his parents, but little else has been reported since then, and to the Statesman’s knowledge, none of it by named individuals.

LISTEN WITH US

We’re following along with Season 2 of “Serial” as it revisits the case of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Every Wednesday after a new Serial episode, reporters with the Idaho Statesman and Boise State Public Radio will host a companion podcast, “Speaking of Serial,” discussing Bergdahl’s case, Serial’s reporting and what happens when an Idahoan becomes the center of international news.

You’ll find the latest episode here.

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