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Bergdahl attorney says client has been vilified

Jul. 16, 2014 - 01:50PM   |  
Posters dot Main Street in Hailey, Idaho, hometown of Bowe Bergdahl on June 6.
Posters dot Main Street in Hailey, Idaho, hometown of Bowe Bergdahl on June 6. (Michael Chow/USA TODAY)
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WASHINGTON — Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who spent five years in captivity in Afghanistan before being released in a prisoner swap with the Taliban, has retained a civilian lawyer as the Army investigates the circumstances that led to his disappearance and capture.

The investigation is looking into allegations that Bergdahl walked off his remote post in Afghanistan without authorization before militants seized him.

Eugene Fidell, an attorney who teaches military justice at Yale Law School, said in an interview Wednesday that he is representing Bergdahl.

Fidell said he could not discuss specifics of the case, but said his client has been vilified. "A terrible evil befell this soldier," Fidell said. "In due course the American people will know more about this scenario and they will draw their own conclusions."

The Army announced this week that Bergdahl, who was freed from captivity May 31, has returned to normal duty in San Antonio and has assumed an administrative job at the headquarters for U.S. Army North.

Bergdahl has not yet met with Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, who is leading the investigation into the circumstances of Bergdahl's disappearance. That may not happen for several weeks because of Fidell's availability, Fidell said.

Fidell said he has spoken with Dahl and his interactions with the Army have been professional. An Army attorney has been assigned to work with Fidell.

Bergdahl has not spoken publicly about his ordeal.

The Obama administration has been criticized for negotiating with the Taliban and releasing five militants from detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in return for Bergdahl's freedom. The militants were turned over to the Qatar government, where they are to remain for a year.

Soldiers who served with Bergdahl were critical of his actions because they said he left his post without authorization and a subsequent search risked the lives of Americans.

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