Army Sgt. Bergdahl says he was tortured by Taliban captors in Afghanistan
PARIS — Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has told people treating him in an American military medical facility in Germany that he was tortured, beaten and held in a cage by his Taliban captors in Afghanistan because he tried to escape, a senior U.S. official said on Sunday.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss what Bergdahl has revealed about the conditions of his captivity. The New York Times first reported on the matter.
The official said it was difficult to verify the accounts Bergdahl has given since his release a week ago.
Bergdahl, now 28, was captured in June 2009 when he disappeared from his infantry unit. He was held for nearly five years by Taliban terrorists.
Taliban spokesmen could not immediately be reached for comment. On Friday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Bergdahl was held under “good conditions.”
Military doctors at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center say Bergdahl is physically able to travel, but he's not emotionally prepared to be reunited with his family. He has not spoken to his family.
It's unclear when he might return home.
The Pentagon said in a statement that it would not comment on Bergdahl's discussions with those caring for him.
Typically, a returned captive would spend five days to three weeks in the phase of reintegration, which is where Bergdahl is, according to a Pentagon psychologist who is an expert in dealing with military members who have been released from captivity. The psychologist spoke to reporters on Thursday on condition of anonymity.
Once Bergdahl is considered ready to move to the next phase of his decompression, he is expected to be flown to an Army medical center in San Antonio, where he could be reunited with his family.
Bergdahl was returned to the military in exchange for the release of five Taliban terrorists from the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“It would have been offensive and incomprehensible to consciously leave an American behind, no matter what,” Secretary of State John Kerry said.
Qatar was a go-between during the negotiations and has an ongoing role in ensuring the released prisoners remain there for at least a year.