The name of former U.S. Army infantryman Bowe Bergdahl, who deserted his post in Afghanistan and was held captive by the Taliban for more than four years before eventually being given his dishonorable discharge, has surfaced in the federal prosecution of retired Army Green Beret and Oath Keepers member Jeremy Brown.
Brown faces a 10-count federal indictment alleging that he possessed unregistered guns, explosives, and secret national security documents that federal agents found when arresting him last year on charges that he trespassed outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Brown maintains that federal law enforcement officers planted the explosives and secret documents when they searched his property on Sept. 30, 2021. His indictment includes five counts of possessing secret national security documents, but he has said that one of those counts actually involves his own “work product.”
But until this week, it wasn’t known what that so-called work product was. On Wednesday, near the end of a full day of testimony in his trial in Tampa, Andrew Koundarakis, an investigator with the U.S. Air Force, told the court that he received a tip that Brown was in possession of classified defense department information in 2017 and went to confront Brown about it. He said the information pertained to Bergdahl.
Koundarakis said he met with Brown in front of his Tampa home on Oct. 17, 2017, and that Brown told him that he was aware that the material he was working on was classified but that it was not in his possession. Koundarakis said that he then asked to search Brown’s old military locker and Brown allowed him to do so, but that Brown objected to having his house searched for the missing documents. There has been no additional information provided yet about the nature of Brown’s report on Bergdahl.
The tenth count in the federal superseding indictment against Brown refers to a “Classified Trip Report” dated Sept. 1, 2011, added to the federal government’s case against Brown only last month. His legal team says that during their search government agents planted all of the other secret documents involved.
Bergdahl pleaded guilty in 2017 to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy after leaving his post in Afghanistan in June 2009 and setting off a massive search-and-rescue operation that involved thousands of U.S. troops, according to Military.com. He was captured by the Taliban and held until he was released in 2014 in a prisoner swap for five members of the Taliban who had been held at the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay.
Brown served in the U.S. Army from 1992-2012. He has been detained in a Pinellas County jail for more than 14 months following his arrest. He is one of more than 900 people charged with crimes stemming from the Jan. 6 riot in the Capitol, although he never entered the building.
He was initially arrested on two misdemeanor charges of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and knowingly and disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of government business or official functions.
However, those are not the charges that Brown faces this week in the Middle District of Florida.
There will be no testimony in the trial on Thursday, but the case resumes on Friday, when Brown himself is expected to testify.
On Wednesday night, government attorneys filed a motion to preclude Brown from introducing evidence when he goes before the court to justify possession of the “Trip Report.”
The case may go to the jury as soon as Friday afternoon.
Editor’s note: This story by author Mitch Perry was originally published by the Tallahassee-based nonprofit news site Florida Phoenix. Find the original story here, and visit the Florida Phoenix website for more in-depth stories, briefs and commentary on current events.