U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl tried to escape his Taliban captors a dozen times in five years as a prisoner of war, once remaining free for nine days, but each time he was found and brutally beaten, he said in a statement released on Wednesday.
The statement, Bergdahl’s first account of his time as a Taliban prisoner, was released by his attorney, Eugene Fidell, after the Army charged Bergdahl with desertion and misbehavior in the face of the enemy in connection with his capture.
Bergdahl faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of the more serious misbehavior charge, the Army said. He could also be reduced in rank to private, forfeit all salary and be given a dishonorable discharge.
Bergdahl, 28, disappeared from Combat Outpost Mest-Lalak in Paktika Province in eastern Afghanistan on June 30, 2009, after pulling early morning guard duty. He left behind his weapon, ammunition and body armor.
The sergeant said his first escape attempt occurred within hours of his initial capture, when his minders briefly left him alone in a village where he was being interrogated and beaten for evading questions.