A judge has postponed U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's trial to February 2017 to give the defense time to properly review and prepare thousands of pages of classified documents.
Army Judge Col. Jeffrey R. Nance announced that the trial would be pushed back at a pre-trial hearing held today in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The move means Bergdahl’s fate will not be decided until after a new commander-in-chief is elected and inaugurated.
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, slammed Bergdahl at an August town hall meeting in New Hampshire. “We get a traitor named Bergdahl, a dirty, rotten traitor,” Trump said. “When he deserted, six young, beautiful people were killed trying to find him.”
In a statement, Bergdahl’s civilian defense lawyer, Eugene Fidell, said Trump’s remarks threatened Bergdahl’s right to a fair trial, adding that they were “contemptible and un-American.” Bergdahl's military lawyer, Lt. Col. Frank Rosenblatt, sent a letter to Trump, requesting an interview. Bergdahl's defense team is considering deposing Trump over the remarks.
Bergdahl disappeared on June 30, 2009, from Combat Outpost Mest-Malak in Paktika Province, Afghanistan. He was held captive by the Taliban for five years until his release in May 2014, when he was exchanged for five Taliban prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay.
Bergdahl is facing a court-martial on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. If convicted, he could face life in prison. He has not entered a plea.