US soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who spent five years in Taliban captivity, will instead be dishonourably discharged
He admitted desertion and misbehaviour before the enemy.
But US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, seized by the Taliban after leaving his outpost in Afghanistan in 2009, was spared jail on Friday.
A military court at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, instead ruled that the 31-year-old should be dishonourably discharged, demoted to private and fined.
That decision was branded a ‘complete and total disgrace’ by President Trump who, while seeking election, had called for Bergdahl’s execution.
The decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 3 novembre 2017
Trump’s stance was slammed by Bergdahl’s defence attorney Eugene Fidell.
“President Trump’s unprincipled effort to stoke a lynch mob atmosphere while seeking our nation’s highest office has cast a dark cloud over the case,” Fidell told reporters.
“Every American should be offended by his assault on the fair administration of justice and his disdain for basic constitutional rights.”
— NBC News (@NBCNews) 3 novembre 2017
Prosecutors wanted 14 years behind bars for Bergdahl who endured torture and malnutrition while held by the Taliban.
His case sparked a national debate over whether he was a victim or a villain.
After nearly five years in captivity, Bergdahl was handed over to US special operations troops in Afghanistan in May 2014 in a controversial prisoner exchange with the Taliban.
According to testimony, he has suffered from several mental health conditions.
Defence lawyers said after sentencing that Bergdahl was relieved and eager to move on, though they would not discuss his plans.