By Jim Forsyth
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) – The U.S. military plans to start questioning freed U.S. prisoner-of-war Bowe Bergdahl from Wednesday on the circumstances that led to his 2009 capture in Afghanistan by the Taliban, Bergdahl’s lawyer said on Tuesday.
Bergdahl, an Army sergeant, will be questioned by investigating officer Major General Kenneth R. Dahl at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, where Bergdahl has been stationed for the past several weeks.
“He is looking forward to having all of this over and done with, and being able to move on to the next chapter of his life,” lawyer Eugene Fidell said.
Fidell declined to speculate on what Bergdahl will say to the general but said his client will cooperate.
Bergdahl, 28, was released in May in exchange for five Taliban prisoners who were transferred to Qatar from the Guantanamo Bay U.S. prison in Cuba.
Critics have questioned whether the Obama administration paid too high a price and whether Bergdahl had deserted his combat outpost in Afghanistan before his capture.
Greg Rinckey, a military attorney who has been involved in several hearings similar to this one, said the meeting will take place in a conference room, not in a courtroom, and he says it will be informal and not adversarial.
“This … general is going to be talking to Sergeant Bergdahl, asking him several questions with his lawyer present,” Rinckey said. “It is really not an interrogation, it’s more of an interview.”
Some members of Bergdahl’s former unit have indicated that he was absent without leave or may have deserted his post when he was captured by the Taliban.
About two weeks ago, Bergdahl was returned to active duty in an administrative office at Fort. Sam Houston.
A senior Army officer has said the purpose of the probe was to determine facts and circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s disappearance up to the point of capture.
Dahl’s finding and recommendations will be presented to the director of Army staff, who is not bound by the conclusions and who could issue his own determinations and recommendations.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Eric Walsh)